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After his return to India from South Africa in 
1914 Gandhiji tried his method of Satyagraha on 
what may be called a mass scale for the first time in 
Champaran. How he was led to take up the cause of 
the oppressed Champaran ryot and how as a result 
was compelled to civilly defy a police order for the 
first time on Indian soil has been graphically describ- 
ed by him in l\is Autobiography. About the Cham- 
paran Satyagraha he however wrote : " To give a full 
account of the Champaran enquiry would be to nar- 
rate the history, for the period, of the Champaran 
ryot, which is out of the question in these chapters. 
The Champaran enquiry was a bold experiment with 
truth and ahimsa. For the details the reader must 
turn to Sjt. Rajendraprasad's history of the Cham- 
paran Satyagraha." 

The Champaran experiment forms a vital chap- 
ter in the development of the Satyagraha method in 
India. It is no exaggeration to say that to all stu- 
dents of Gandhiji's method of social and political 
work a knowledge of the detailed history of the 
experiment is indispensable. It is certainly lucky for 
the future students of Satyagraha that a man of the 
intellectual eminence of Dr. Rajendraprasad was one 
of the batch of the Bihar lawyers who joined Gandhiji 
in his campaign. It was he who wrote out a well 
documented' history of the struggle in Hindi in 
1918-19. Later it was translated in English and 
published under the title Satyagraha in Champaran 



in 1928. That publication has not been available in 
the market for a long time now and the demand for 
it increased specially after the demise of Gandhiji. 

We were therefore pleased when Dr. Rajendra- 
prasad permitted us to undertake r its publication. 
Readers will be glad to learn that in spite of his heavy 
occupation with work of national importance and 
weak health Rajendrababu spared time to go over 
the whole book again. 

We feel sure all lovers of Gandhiji and his way 
of work will welcome this history of a unique experi- 
ment in truth and ahimsa. 



This book* was written in Hindi in 1919 and 
published for the first time in 1922. Its English 
version was published in March, 1928. I wrote in 
the preface to the Hindi edition as follows : 

" On reading this book it will be clear to the 
reader that a glimpse of what Mahatma Gandhi had 
been doing between 1920 and 1922 regarding the 
Satyagraha and Non-co-operation Movement had 
been seen in the Champaran Movement. The first 
big work which Mahatma Gandhi took up in India 
after his return from South Africa was the work 
in Champaran. At that time the Home Rule agi- 
tation was at its height in India. When we used 
to ask Mahatmaji to let Champaran also join that 
movement, he used to tell us that the work that 
was being done in Champaran was the work which 
will be able to establish Home Rule. At that time 
the country did not perhaps realize the importance 
of the work nor did we who were there do so. But 
today when we look back upon the method of 
work pursued there and consider the history of the 
National Struggle during the last three or four 
years, then we can see that the great movement of 
today is only an edition of the work in Champaran 
on immensely vaster scale. If we read the history 
of Champaran and Kaira Satyagraha, we shall see 
that whatever the Non-co-operation-Satyagraha 
Movement has done or proposes to do is to be found 



in this movement. Mahatmaji has started the Non- 
co-operation Movement to free India from injus- 
tice and tyranny under which she has been groan- 
ing ; even so had he considered it his duty to save 
the tenantry of Champaran from the load of injus- 
tice and tyranny under which it was being pressed. 
Just as India has taken to Satyagraha and Non- 
co-operation after she had failed to get redress by 
agitating in the press and on the platform and by 
resolutions and questions in Legislatures, even so 
had the tenantry in Champaran invited Mahatmaji 
after it had failed in similar efforts. Just as in the 
present agitation Mahatmaji has invited the coun- 
try to accept his programme based entirely on 
Truth and ahimsa (Non-violence), even so had he 
taught the simple and illiterate tenantry of Cham- 
paran the lesson of truth and non-violence, not by 
speeches but by his action. Just as he has now 
filled the people of the country with a determina- 
tion to win freedom of the country by taking upon 
themselves knowingly and intentionally suffering 
and distress, even so had he taught the tenantry of 
Champaran the same lesson by showing his readi- 
ness to suffer the hardships of jail life. Just as the 
Government officials while knowing the suffering 
and distress of the tenantry and knowing the in- 
justice done to it, still wanted to obstruct Mahat- 
maji and were prepared even to send him to Jail, 
even so have they been following a similar course 
in regard to the Non-co-operation Movement. 
Before Mahatmaji set his foot in Champaran, the 
tenantry of the district had at times carried on 
strong agitation and had sometimes attempted non- 
co-operation also. But the foundation of that 


agitation and non-co-operation was not based on 
ahimsa (non-violence). The Government and 
planters who pin their faith in violence and force 
and who have resources to use it effectively always 
succeeded in .suppressing their agitation which was 
not free from violence. In the Non-co-operation 
Movement also wherever we have departed from 
the basic principle of non-violence, we have our- 
selves supplied the material for our own defeat. If 
we always keep before us the principle of non-vio- 
lence and carry forward our movement with deter- 
mination, there can be no doubt that just as success 
was achieved in Champaran and, just as the Akalis 
of the Punjab are setting before the country a true 
example of non-violent struggle and appear to be 
succeeding, even so shall this countrywide move- 
ment of non-co-operation succeed. Just as the Gov- 
ernment themselves ultimately accepted all that 
the tenantry of Champaran had been pressing upon 
them, sometimes in sorrow, sometimes in anger, 
even so shall the Government and its officers ulti- 
mately accept whatever the country demands to- 

In the preface to the English edition which was 
published in 1928 I wrote as follows : 

"To enable the reader to further appreciate 
the effect of the intensive work of 1917 I may state 
here that within the last ten years indigo has prac- 
tically ceased to be grown in Champaran, that the 
biggest indigo factories have either been sold or 
are being sold, that many of the smaller ones have 
disappeared and the ryot of Champaran is a bolder 
and more self-respecting individual than he was 
ten years ago." 

I need hardly add that what happened in Cham- 
paran has been repeated, as I had hoped, on a vast 
scale in the country as a whole. Champaran became 
free from planters' tyranny, India today is free from 
foreign rule. The work in Champaran was comple- 
ted in a year. The freedom movement there started 
by Mahatma Gandhi has taken some 30 years to bear 
fruit. The Mahatma lived to see the fruition of his 
labours so far as freedom from foreign rule is con- 
cerned. He could not complete the work of recon- 
struction in Champaran as he was called away 
elsewhere by more pressing demands from the coun- 
try at large. Even so has remained unfinished the 
work of reconstruction of India after the winning of 
freedom. I pray to God that his spirit may guide the 
people and make them worthy of the great inheri- 
tance of his teachings and of the great country to 
which they belong. 

New Delhi, 5-7-'49 Rajendraprasad 


Chapter Page 







5 1907 1909 29 



8 ABWAB 83 





MR. MAUDE 131 













AGRARIAN BILL, 1917 204 





INDEX 221 




Champaran is the name of an administrative 
district situated in the north-western corner of the 
Province of Bihar and Orissa in British India. To its 
north are the Himalayan mountains and the territory 
of Nepal ; on its west is the district of Gorakhpur in 
the United Provinces ; to its east, is the district of 
Muzaffarpur and to its south the district of Saran. 
The name of a part of the southern portion of the 
Himalayan range is Someshwar, and it falls in part 
in Champaran. That constitutes the boundary be- 
tween Nepal and Champaran. It is about 1,500 feet 
high, but one of its spurs on which stands a fortress 
is 2,884 feet high. 

. The biggest river in this district is the Nara- 
yani which is also known as the Salagrami or the 
Gandak. In olden times it flowed right through the 
middle of the district ; but it changed its course and 
to-day it forms its southern boundary. It rises in the 
Himalayas near a place called Tribeni. Boats can 
go right up to Tribeni. During summer there is not 
much water in the river, but even then country boats 
can ply. During the rains the volume of water be- 
comes very large and its current very strong. The 
river is notorious for alligators and crocodiles. The 
Puranic story of Gajagraha has a reference to a 
place on the banks of this river in the district of 
Saran. The river second in importance to the Gan- 
dak which deserves mention is the Chhoti or Small 


Gandak. It rises from the Someshwar Hill and flows 
across the district. Up to a certain distance it bears 
the name of Haraha, then it becomes the Sikrahana 
and further down it becomes known as the Burhi or 
old Gandak. Many small rivers rising in the hills 
come and join it with the result that the Sikrahana 
which during summer has hardly a bed of 100 yards 
under water becomes about 2 miles in width at places 
during the rainy season. Apart from the smaller 
rivers, there is a canal made by the British Govern- 
ment known as the Tribeni Canal. 

It has already been said that at one time the 
Gandak flowed through the middle of the district. 
The river has changed its course, but traces of its 
old course are still there in the shape of lakes, about 
43 in number, in the whole district. Many of these 
are deep and remain under water throughout the 
year. Their water, however, is not always drinka- 
ble. It is used in indigo factories many of which 
have been constructed on the banks of these lakes. 

Champaran has two kinds of land. To the 
north of the Sikrahana the soil is hard and the level 
of the land low. It is, therefore, fit for paddy culti- 
vation. It cannot grow indigo. It is called hangar 
locally. To the south of the Sikrahana, the soil has a 
large admixture of sand in it and paddy cannot be 
grown on it. But it is very good for maize, wheat, 
etc. It is very good for indigo plantation also. It is 
locally known as bheet. The lands in the Terai or 
hill valley are very fertile, and although the climate 
of the locality is unhealthy for men, it is very good 
for crops. In these parts the crop most grown is 
paddy which may be considered the staple crop of 
the district. About 56 p. c. of the cultivated land 


is paddy growing. There is a saying current "among 
villagers which may be translated as follows : 
" Majhowa is a wonderful country where even crows 
do not care for rice/' Majhowa is the name of the 
biggest pargana in Champaran. 

The climate of Champaran is considered to be 
worse than that of many other districts of Bihar. 
In the Terai it is very bad indeed. Malarial fever 
rages there, and after the rainy season almost every 
house becomes a hospital. The climate of the south- 
ern portion also cannot be said to be good. As 
v,isA*it/c*ied with other districts of Bihar it is cool. 
For this reason it is liked by Europeans. There is 
something in the nature of the soil, water and climate 
of places on the banks of the Sikrahana and the 
Gandak which causes goitre to the residents. In 
these parts the people, too, are not intelligent. One 
comes across many persons who are lame, decrepit 
and with goitres. There are many idiots also among 
them. They do not know how to count, cannot talk 
coherently, nor understand what others say, and 
smile and laugh idiotically. Such idiots are locally 
known as'lagar, and in other districts of Bihar, 'bagar 
of Majhowa is a well understood expression. It is 
said that in some places even lower animals have 

There are only two towns in the district 
Motihari, which is the headquarters of the district, 
and Bettiah which was -formerly a centre of trade 
and is even now the seat of the Maharaja of Bettiah 
and the headquarters of a subdivision. The area of 
the district is 3,531 square miles. There are 2,841 
villages in it and the population according to the 
census of 1911 is 19,08,385. About 2 p. c. of the 


population live in towns and the rest live in villages. 
The population per square mile is 540. Popu- 
lation in southern and eastern portion of the 
district, which border on Saran and Muzaffarpur, 
is denser, while that in the north-western portion 
which has a bad climate is thin. It' is worth men- 
tioning that large numbers of people have emigrated 
from Saran and Muzaffarpur and settled in this dis- 
trict and their number is increasing. They come and 
settle here as agriculturists. 

Like other districts of Bihar there is prepon- 
derance of Hindus in this district. Their number is 
16,17,456, while that of Mussalmans 2,86,067 only. In 
and near Bettiah there is a large population of 
Christians. It is said that the wife of Raja Dhrub 
Singh of Bettiah was ill and a Christian missionary 
cured her. The Raja was pleased and about 1745 
A. C. set apart some land for the Christian missionary 
there. The number of converts began to increase 
and they now count 2,775 souls. The peculiarity of 
the Christians of Bettiah is this that there is no dif- 
ference in the mode of life and dress of Christians 
and other inhabitants of the place except that their 
women wear a kind of gown which Hindu women do 
not wear. Hindus and Mussalmans in this district 
live in more or less the same way as in other districts 
of Bihar. There is a special caste of Hindus which 
one does not find in other districts. They are known 
as Tharus. They are 34,602 in number and live 
mostly in the Terai area. They can bear the climate 
of that locality better than other people. They are 
simple and truthful. They shun litigation and know 
the art of agriculture very well. The least interfer- 
ence or oppression causes them to vacate their 


villages and emigrate to other and safer places. They 
grow paddy and live quite happily. 

The language of the Hindus and Mussalmans of 
Champaran is a dialect of Hindi known as Bhojpuri 
which agrees almost entirely with the language of 
Saran. In the dialect of the south-eastern portion of 
the district adjoining Muzaffarpur district there are 
traces of the influence of Maithili. The language of 
the Tharus is also Bhojpuri, but it contains some 
words of their original primitive language. 


Champaran is a corrupt form of the word 
Champaranya. It is mentioned in the Puranas. In 
its jungles were the places of penance of Rishis. It 
is said that Tappa Duho Suho is named after Durani 
and Surani, the two wives of Raja Uttanapada. 
Dhruva was the son of this Raja and he was born in 
this tapovana and did his penance here. The 
ashrama of Valmiki Muni was also situate within 
this district. Janaki after her exile took shelter in 
this ashrama of *Valmiki and her two sons Lava and 
Kusha were born there. The battle between Rama- 
chandra and his two sons Lava and Kusha took place 
somewhere within this district. The story is current 
that the capital of Birat Raja where the Pandavas 
lived during their exile was also in this district, and 
a place called Barahi is still pointed out as that 
capital. It is at a short distance from Ramnagar. 
It is believed by the local people that the kingdom 
of Raja Bideha was also here and he used to live at 


a place called Jankigarh which is also known as 

The Lichchhavis reigned in Champaran about 600 
B. C. They fought against Ajatashatru of Magadha, 
were defeated and had to pay tribute to Magadha. 
Traces of forts are still extant at Nandangarh and 
other places and they are said by historians to belong 
to the time of the Lichchhavis. Coins have also been 
discovered in these places which are of about 1000 
B. C. 

Numerous memorials of the Buddhistic period 
are found in Champaran. Buddha is said to have 
travelled through this district in his journey from 
Plasi to Kusinar. His ashes are said to be lying in 
some stupa at Lauria Nandangarh or near about it. 
Many pillars erected by Ashoka are still seen in 
several parts of the district. Most of the places 
where such pillars stand are known as Lauriya, that 
is, the place of the pillar. It appears from this that 
at one time the Buddhists had great influence there. 
Raja Ashoka started on his pilgrimage from Patali- 
putra (Patna) and went to Ramapurwa passing 
Kesaria, Lauriya, Areraj and Lauriya Nandangarh, 
and he set up pillars in all these places. In those 
days Nepal also formed a part of 'the kingdom of 
Magadha, and this used to be the route for officials 
going from Patna to Nepal via Bhikhna Thorce. 
The Chinese travellers travelled by this route. Both 
Fa Hian and Huen Tsang have mentioned these 

After the Buddhists, the Gupta kings reigned 
over Champaran and Raja Harshavardhana's flag also 
flew there. The history of the period prior to the 
13th century A. C. is not available in a reliable form 


but it is said that at one time the Cheddis also reign- 
ed over Champaran. 

Evidence is available that later on Champaran 
passed under the sway of the kings of Tirhoot. The 
two kingdoms - % deserving of mention are those of 
Simra and Sugaon. In the 13th and 14th centuries, 
the Mussalmans invaded Champaran but they did 
riot quite establish themselves there. At the begin- 
ning of the 16th century, Sikandar Lodi took posses- 
sion of Tirhoot and thenceforward Tirhoot which 
included Champaran became a part of the Muslim 
Empire. No separate history of Champaran is avail- 
able after this, as it thenceforward became mixed up 
with that of other districts. In the 18th century 
when Alivardikhan became Governor of Bihar and 
Bengal he invaded Champaran and he was helped by 
the Afghans of Darbhanga. His invasion was success- 
ful and he carried away a large amount of booty. 
Sometime later the Afghans who had helped him re- 
belled against him but were defeated by Alivardi- 
khan. Two of these Afghans, Shamsherkhan and 
Sardarkhan, took refuge in Bettiah Raj. Alivardi- 
khan for this reason invaded Bettiah with the result 
that the Raja of Bettiah handed over those Afghans 
with all their dependants to him..^ 

About 1760 there was a war between Shah 
Alam and the English in which the latter were suc- 
cessful. One of the helpers of Shah Alam was Kha- 
dim Husainkhan, the Subedar of Purnea. After his 
defeat he fled towards Bettiah. Miran and General 
Claude pursued him but on account of the accidental 
death of Miran by a stroke of lightning General 
Claude had to retrace his steps. But before doing so 
he realized a tribute from the Raja of Bettiah. The 


Raja of Bettiah shortly afterwards raised the stand- 
ard of revolt and Mir Kasim invaded Bettiah and 
suppressed the rebellion. In 1765 Champaran was 
also granted to the English by Shah Alam along with 
Bengal and Bihar. It should not bg inferred from 
this, however, that there was peace after this event. 
Shortly afterwards Raja Jugalkishor of Bettiah de- 
clared war against the English but he was defeated 
and fled to Bundelkhand leaving his Kingdom. After 
this time the condition of Champaran was very de- 
plorable. The tribute payable to the English went 
on dwindling. The English thought that without the 
return of Raja Jugalkishor, Bettiah i would not be- 
come prosperous again and that their revenue would 
not increase. They accordingly asked Raja Jugal- 
kishorsingh to return and made over to him \he two 
parganas of Majhowa and Simraon in 1771 ; and two 
other parganas of Mehsi and Babra were given to his 
kinsmen Srikrishnasingh and Awadhutsingh. 

In 1791 when the Decennial Settlement was 
made the two parganas of Majhowa and Simraon 
were settled with Raja Jugalkishorsingh's son, Bir- 
kishorsingh, and the two parganas of Mehsi and 
Babra which had been granted to Srikrishnasingh 
and Awadhutsingh came to constitute the Sheohar 
Raj. Two other Zamindaris of Madhuban and Ram- 
nagar also came into existence about that time. This 
settlement was confirmed in 1793 at the time of the 
Permanent Settlement. Sometime later pargana 
Babra was transferred to the district of Muzaffarpur 
and only small parts of Sheohar Raj remained in 
Champaran. There are several small Zamindaris 
now in existence but the principal Zamindaris in the 
district are even now only three, namelv. Bettiah. 


Ramnagar and Madhuban. It should not be under- 
stood, however, that these Zamindaris had their ori- 
gin about this time. The Bettiah Raj is a very old 
Raj. It was granted for the first time by Emperor 
Shahajahan to Ujjainsingh and his descendants 
have always hefd it. Similarly the Ramnagar Raj is 
also an ancient Raj. It is said that the ancestors of 
the Ramnagar Raj came from Chitor and conquered 
Nepal and they founded Ramnagar. They got the 
title of Raja from Emperor Aurangzib in 1676 A. D. 


The area of the Bettiah Raj is about 2,000 sq. 
miles. Formerly communication was not as conve- 
nient as it is now. Therefore for better management 
the estate was divided into small parts and leased 
out to lessees. The lessees had to look after the parts 
leased out to them, to realize rent from the cultiva- 
tors and to pay the same to the Estate. In the earlier 
days all lessees were Indians and they had been there 
from before 1793. Later on Europeans who engaged 
in indigo and sugarcane cultivation began to take 
leases from the Bettiah and Ramnagar Estates. The 
oldest indigo factory was that established by Col. 
Hickey at Bara. Later on Turkaulia, Peepra, Moti- 
hari and Rajpur factories were established. As time 
went on, new factories were established and they 
went on replacing the Indian lessees in the Bettiah 
Raj. In the early times these factories were estab- 
lished only in places where the soil was fit for indigo 
and sugarcane cultivation. But when they had 


established their influence fully, some Europeans 
began to settle in the north-western portion of the 
district also in about 1875. The soil being unfit for 
indigo cultivation, they had to find out other means 
of income. In this way the whole of the district be- 
came honey-combed with European factories and 
now-a-days there are about 70 such factories, a de- 
tailed account of which will be found in later pages. 
For building their factories they took small plots of 
land from the Bettiah Raj on perpetual lease. The 
Bettiah Raj had become encumbered with debt in 
about 1888. Mr. T. Gibbon, its manager, raised a 
loan of about 85 lakhs in England to liquidate that 
debt. It was arranged that the Bettiah Raj should 
settle a portion of its Estate with European factory 
owners in perpetuity, and these latter would pay the 
reserved rent towards the liquidation of the debt. 
Accordingly lands fetching five lakhs and a half per 
year were settled in perpetual or mokarri lease with 
fourteen factories. The result was that this perma- 
nent interest in the land strengthened their position 
very much. Besides this they also went on taking 
temporary leases from the Raj. Some villages were 
settled in perpetuity with factories by the Ramnagar 
Raj also ; but it is difficult to find when and under 
what circumstances this took place. Within recent 
times some factories have also purchased Zamindari 
rights in some villages, but that is to a very small 
extent only. At present there are 36 European les- 
sees under the Bettiah Raj of whom 23 deal in indigo. 
More than one half of the district is in the possession 
of European lessees. 

In the beginning the planters used to cultivate 
sugarcane along with indigo. But from about 1850 


they diminished sugar-cane plantation on account of 
the larger profit derived from indigo. Ever since 
then the planters have carried on indigo cultivation 
under two systems : (a) Zerait i.e., depart- 
mental cultivation under their direct supervision, 
(b) Asamiwar i.e., cultivation through cultivators 
or tenants. 

Zerait. The factory owners under this system 
used to cultivate the land in their possession with 
the help of their own ploughs and bullocks. This 
land used to be either the proprietors' (their lessors') 
private land or land in which the factory owner had 
acquired rights of occupancy. The entire burden of 
cultivation used to be on the factory. The only con- 
nection that the tenants had with this cultivation 
was that they were liable to render service on the 
land or to have their bullocks and ploughs impressed 
for such cultivation under the orders of the factory. 
.The factory had no doubt to pay something for this 
kind of service but it will be seen later on that 
the wages used to be so low that the tenants could 
never feel satisfied. To make matters worse the fac- 
tory underlings used to deduct a discount from the 
wages so paid. Mr. J. A. Sweeney, the Settlement 
Officer, stated in his evidence before the Champaran 
Agrarian Committee that " so far as he was aware no 
factory was fully self-contained then in the matter 
of cultivating its rural lands ". 

Asamiwar. Under this system the factory got 
indigo grown by the tenants. This used to be done 
in several ways, but the most prevalent method was 
that known as Tinkathia. Kushki and Kurtauli sys- 
tems also deserve mention as other methods. 


About the kurtauli system it was said by the 
Commissioner of Patna in 1885 : " The kurtauli 
lease is a new institution dating from a very few 

years back There is growing up in our midst 

and in spite of our efforts at beneficent legisla- 
tion, a system under which the ryot mortgages 
his entire holding and the very site of his house for 
a period probably extending beyond his own life- 
time, redemption being contingent on the repayment 
of a loan ; the ryot, to use the common expression, is 
selling himself body and soul into hopeless servi- 

This system is not widely prevalent in Cham- 
paran but there is no doubt that it is very harmful 
to the interests of ryots. 

As said above, Tinkathia was the most prevalent 
system in Champaran. According to it the factory 
owners got the tenant to cultivate indigo in a portion 
of his holding for which a fixed price was paid. About 
1860 the portion so reserved for indigo used to be 
5 kathas per bigha or one fourth of the tenant's 
holding. Sometime later, about 1867, this area was 
reduced from 5 kathas to 3 kathas per bigha. Since 
then the system came to be known as tinkathia (or 
the system of three kathas). When the factories 
were being established for the first time, their owners 
had no permanent interest in land. They used to 
take short term leases from the Bettiah Raj and to 
grow indigo on lands in their possession under the 
Zerait system. But that was in small quantities. 
They would place temptation in the way of the Bet- 
tiah Raj by offering to take a lease on a reserved 
rent equal to the gross rental realizable from tenants, 


and when they got the lease, they would get indigo 
cultivated by the tenants for their own benefit. They 
used to make much, profit from indigo. The only 
losers were the tenants^ It is thus apparent that 
whenever a factory got possession of a village, its 
first attempt wolild be to bring as much land as possi- 
ble under indigo cultivation ; and for this they 
used to cheat, cajole and coerce the simple 
tenants into agreeing to grow indigo on their lands. 
After sometime these agreements used to be reduced 
to writing as sattas. One of the conditions in such 
agreements or sattas used to be that the tenant 
would grow indigo on 3 kathas per bigha of his hold- 
ing for a number of years sometimes for 20, 25, 
or even 30 years. The particular plot of his holding 
which would be reserved for indigo would be select- 
ed by the factory. The land would be ploughed and 
otherwise made fit for cultivation by the tenant 
under the supervision of the factory. If the crop was 
good a fixed price per bigha would be paid to the 
tenant. But if the crop was not bumper, then what- 
ever the reason for it may be, the tenant would get 
only a reduced price. If the tenant failed to grow 
indigo, he was liable to pay a heavy sum by way of 
damages for his breach. 

There is evidence to show that both the Zerait 
and.Asamiwar systems of cultivation have been in 
vogue ever since indigo cultivation was introduced 
into Champaran. It has already been stated that 
originally the indigo used to be grown by tenants on 
5 kathas out of each bigha of the holding, and this 
was reduced in 1867 to 3 kathas per bigha. In 1909 
the Planters' Association passed a resolution that 
this area should be further reduced from 3 to 2 


kathas per bigha but it is not known if this resolu- 
tion was given effect to by the factories. It is cer- 
tain, however, that many factories did not observe it 
and many did not require to do it. The reason for 
this will be stated hereafter. Similarly the price 
payable by the factories to the tenants was also raised 
from time to time under pressure from the Govern- 
ment and the tenants. Before 1867 the tenant used 
to be paid Rs. 6-8-0 for every acre of indigo. After 
the disturbances of that year the planters under 
Government pressure increased the rate to Rs. 9 per 
acre. This was further raised in 1876 to Rs. 10-5-0, 
in 1897 to Rs. 12-7-0 and in 1909 after Mr. Gourlay's 
Report to Rs. 13-8-0 per acre. Apart from this there 
has been an idea ever since 1878 that no rent should 
be payable by the tenant for the area under indigo ; 
but this rule has not been followed by the factories. 

The cultivation of indigo was more extensive in 
Champaran than in any other district of Bihar. 
During the survey of 1892-97 indigo used to be grown 
on 95,970 acres, that is, on 6.63 per cent of the fand 
under cultivation. Out of this about one fourth was 
cultivated under the Zerait system and the remain- 
ing three-fourths was cultivated under the Asami- 
war, that is, the tinhathia system. In those days 
33,000 labourers used to work in indigo factories. 
Later on by reason of the introduction of German 
synthetic dyes, profits fell and the planters reduced 
the cultivation of indigo, so much so, that in 1905 
the area under indigo cultivation fell to 47,800 acres 
arid in 1914 to 8,100 acres. In 1914 war was declared 
between Germany and England and the import of 
German dyes ceased. Indigo began to look up once 
again, and the planters increased its cultivation. In 


1916 indigo was grown on 21,900 acres and in 1917 
on 26,848 acres, out of which about two thirds were 
grown asamiwar and only one-third under the zerait 
system. The planters, however, did not lose much 
on account of the fall in the price of indigo, as they 
devised means, *to be detailed later, to transfer the 
loss to the shoulders of the poor tenants. 

. There are two kinds of indigo Sumatra indigo 
and Java or Natal indigo. Before 1905 only Sumatra 
indigo used to be grown. For this crop the land is till- 
ed from Aswin to Phalgun (September to March) and 
the seed is sown in March. The crop is cut in Asarh 
(June to July), and this is known as the Morhan 
crop. The stump that is left in the field is cut once 
again in Bhadon (August to September) and this 
is known as khunti. The Java or Natal indigo is sown 
in Kartik to Aghan (October to November) and is 
cut at the same time as the Sumatra crop. From 100 
maunds of leaves and stalk about 10 seers of indigo 
cakes are prepared. 


The tinkathia system has been mentioned in the 
last chapter. It is no exaggeration to say that this 
was at the root of all the troubles and miseries of the 
tenants of Champaran. 

In 1860 there was a great agitation in Bengal 
against indigo. In those days Babu Harishchandra 
Mukerjee was of great help to the tenants and the 
British Indian Association also sympathized with 
them. The miseries of the tenants melted the hearts 
of the Christian Missionaries. There were many 


among British officials, too, who sympathized with 
the tenants. Of those Mr. William Herschell, who 
later on became Sir William Herschell, and Mr. 
Ashley Eden, who became the Lieutenant-Governor 
of Bengal as Sir Ashley Eden, were the most noted. 
At their suggestion and on pressure from them the 
Government appointed a Commission with full 
powers to inquire into the grievances of the indigo 
tenants. Mr. Seton Kerr who was the secretary to 
the Government of Bengal was the president of the 
Commission and its members were Mr. Richard Tem- 
ple, who later became the Lieutenant-Governor of 
Bengal as Sir Richard Temple, Mr. Fergusson, a 
planter, Mr. John Sale, a missionary, and Babu 
Chanrlramohan Chatterjee who was an influential 
member of the British Indian Association. Tenants 
from the districts of Nadia and Jessore, where the 
indigo trouble was most acute, were brought under 
arrangements made by Harishchandra Mukerjee to 
Calcutta to give evidence before the Commission. 
Harishchandra Mukerjee himself gave evidence. Lal- 
bihari Day in his Bengal Peasant Life has drawn a 
beautiful but heart-rending picture of the planter and 
the ryot of Bengal of those days. Mr. E. W. L. Tower 
who was at one time the Magistrate of Faridpur 
stated in his evidence before the Commission as fol- 
lows : 

"There is one thing more. I wish to state that con- 
siderable odium has been thrown on the Missionaries for 
saying that ' Not a chest of indigo reached England 
without being stained with human blood. 1 That has been 
stated to be an anecdote. That expression is mine, and 
I adopt it in the fullest and broadest sense of its meaning 
as the result of my experience as Magistrate in the Farid- 
pur District. I have seen several ryots, sent in to me as 


a Magistrate, who have been speared through the 
body. I have had ryots before me who have been shot 
down by Mr. Forde (a planter). I have put on record, how 
others have been first speared and then kidnapped; and 
such a system of carrying on indigo, I consider to be a 
system of blood-shed." 
It appears 'from the Report of the Commission 

that the grievances of the tenants of Bengal were as 

follows : 

(1) The contract which the tenants were made to 
enter into with the planter regarding indigo was not 
voluntarily accepted by them but they were coerced. 

(2) Some advance of money used to be forced upon 
them for growing indigo. 

(3) They had to give their valuable time to the 
cultivation of indigo while it could have been more profit- 
ably employed in growing other crops. 

(4) Their best lands were taken up for indigo grow- 
ing. Sometimes even land on which another crop was 
growing used to be taken up for growing indigo and the 
standing crop destroyed. 

(5) There was no certainty about the indigo crop 
with the result that the tenants very often could not repay 
even the advance which became a heavy burden on them. 

(6) The underlings of factories used to oppress them. 

(7) The factory owners and managers also used to 
employ force and beat them. 

In the opinion of the Commission almost all the 
complaints were well-founded. They held that the 
tenants were not at all benefitted by the indigo culti- 
vation. The planters reserved the right of selecting 
the lands for indigo and sometimes they caused land 
in which other crops were growing to be ploughed 
up for indigo. The factory amlas (employees) used 
to oppress them in various ways. A tenant who had 
once taken an advance could never extricate him- 
self. The Commission recommended that if the 
tenants were to be made to grow indigo they should 


be paid at a rate which would satisfy them, and that 
if the system of contracts for indigo was to be con- 
tinued, they should be for short terms and their 
accounts should be settled every year; the land on 
which indigo was to be grown should be mentioned 
in the contract itself. The planter should carry the 
indigo plant from the field to the factory at his own 
expense. The tenants should not be required to pay 
the price of the indigo seed. The tenants should be 
given the right to grow any other crop on the indigo 
land after the indigo crop was cut or that if they 
wanted to reserve the crop for seeds, they should be 
permitted to do so. Separate accounts should be 
kept for indigo and the rents payable by them. They 
also recommended that arrangements should be 
made for the protection of tenants. Sir John Peter 
Grant, the then Lt.-Governor of Bengal, accepted 
the recommendations almost in their entirety. The 
result of the action taken on this Report was that 
within a short time indigo cultivation disappeared 
altogether from Bengal. The reason of this was that 
without the oppressive system then in vogue, the 
planter could not make any profit out of indigo 

About the same time the question of Bihar 
indigo planters was also raised but there was no 
Harishchandra Mukerjee in Bihar to take up the 
tenants' grievances, nor was there any one among 
the tenants who kept himself informed about the 
Calcutta Commission. It is true that some Bihar 
planters also gave evidence before the Commission 
from which it appears that the same system was in 
vogue in Bihar also. There was a difference only in 
one respect. The system of advances was not so 


oppressive to tenants in Bihar as it was in Bengal ; 
but the other grievances were practically the same. 
Although the tenants of Champaran have ever 
since been clamouring for redress of their grievances 
no effort was .made to remove the root causes of 
their troubles until 1917, so much so that when 
Mahatma Gandhi arrived in Champaran in 1917 to 
enquire into the grievances of tenants, the planters 
began to say that they had no trouble with the 
tenants, and that all the trouble was created by out- 
siders. But this was later proved to be absolutely un- 
founded before the Commission. The Hon. Mr. Maude, 
in his speech on the Champaran Agrarian Bill before 
the Bihar Legislative Council, said as follows : 

" I have gone at what I am afraid is rather wearisome 
length into the past history of what may perhaps best be 
described as the indigo difficulty, because it is constantly 
asserted, and I have often heard it said, that there is in 
reality nothing wrong or rotten in the state of affairs, 
that every one concerned is perfectly happy so long as 
they are left alone and that it is only when outside in- 
fluences and agitators come in that any trouble is expe- 
rienced. I submit that this contention is altogether 
untenable in the light of the history of past fifty years of 
which I have endeavoured to present to the Council a brief 

It is this tale of woe that is given in brief in the 
following pages. 

The first indigo disturbance in Champaran of 
which any record is available was in 1867. It began in 
Lalsaraiya * factory. The tenants of Mouza Jaukathia 

* It is said of this factory as follows in the Champaran 
Gazetteer : 

"At one time it was the most renowned indigo factory In 
Bihar, being the home of M. James Macleod, who was known 
as the king of planters. His stable contained 120 horses. 


refused to grow indigo and sowed other crops 
on indigo lands. The residents of other villages fol- 
lowed suit. The factory bungalow caught fire and 
was burnt. The planters even in those days tried to 
fasten the responsibility of this fire* on the tenants 
as they did later on in connection with another fire 
in 1917, but no evidence of this was available. The 
complaints of the tenants were the same in 1917 as 
they were in 1867. The Commissioner of Patna in 
his report regarding this disturbance wrote to the 
Government that it was not only that indigo cultiva- 
tion brought no profit to the tenants but that it caus- 
ed actual monetary loss to them ; they were made to 
give contracts for indigo ; their best lands were taken 
for indigo ; indigo cultivation was a very difficult 
job ; factory underlings used to oppress them. This 
disturbance caused a great consternation amongst 
the planters. Indigo cultivation was stopped in a 
way and it seemed as if it would disappear altogether 
from Champaran. The planters pressed their case 
before the Government and the latter also helped 
them. As desired by the planters a Small Cause 
Court of two judges was established by the Govern- 
ment at Motihari to speedily dispose of cases insti- 
tuted by planters for recovery of damages from the 
tenants for breach of their indigo contracts. The 
result was that what the 'planters wanted was achiev- 
ed without their having to institute suits, and the 
efforts of the helpless tenants to get rid of the indigo 
oppression failed. There is no wonder that it was 
so, as the agriculturists as a class are timid and par- 
ticularly those of a place like Champaran are very 
simple. The mere fact of- the establishment of a 
Court at the instance of the planters was enough to 


cow them. Who can say that the tenants did not 
regard this action of the Government as one to help 
and uphold the planters ? Again, what chance was 
there for them to succeed in this unequal fight ? The 
few cases whicfc did actually go to the Court were 
decided against the tenants. There is no doubt that 
even if it be assumed that the Government was not 
actuated by any desire to help the planters, the 
tenants believed this step to be for that purpose. It 
may be stated here that whatever sympathy the Gov- 
ernment may have had with the tenants, it has 
always been exhibited in such a way that every at- 
tempt of the tenants to free themselves from indigo 
has been met by the Government with some action 
which went to help the planters. We shall see later 
on how special registrars were appointed and that 
will make the point clear. The Champaran Gazetteer 
says about this disturbance of 1867 as follows : 

" The disputes between the ryots and the planters had 
at one time threatened to become very serious. The local 
officers almost unanimously reported that the cultivation 
of indigo had become very unpopular, and that there was 
not a ryot who would not abandon the cultivation if he 
could, and this state of things was ascribed as much to the 
insufficiency of remuneration which the ryots received as 
to the exactions, oppressions and annoyance to which they 
were exposed at the hands of the factory servants." 

The Provincial Government wrote to the Gov 
ernment of India as follows about it : 

" The time had passed when it could be hoped to carry 
on indigo concern profitably by forcing on the ryots a cul- 
tivation and labour which was to them unprofitable. The 
necessity of giving adequate remuneration had been re- 
cognized by the planters although they had too long refused 
to recognize the necessity of making such an advance in 


price but managers of the concerns now saw clearly the 
danger which they had so narrowly escaped and would In 
their own interest be careful to guard against falling Into 
such an error again." 

The planters under pressure from Government 
and finding that without increasing the price of 
indigo it would be impossible for them to continue 
in Champaran, raised it from Rs. 6/8/- to Rs. 9/- per 
acre. The Local Government consequently did not 
find it ne9essary to take any further action. But the 
Government of India, reviewing the matter, made a 
most significant statement : 

" The evils of the system were so great that the inter- 
position of the Government might become unavoidable 
unless measures were taken to remove such elements of 
the system as were unjust and oppressive." 
What the Government of India had anticipated 
came soon to be true and shortly after this rise in 
price signs of discontent among tenants began to 
manifest themselves in 1871. The price of indigo had 
no doubt been increased but no steps had been taken 
to remove the defects of the oppressive system. In 
1871 the Lieut.-Governor, in reviewing the report of 
the Commissioner of Patna, wrote as follows : 

" The practice under which the ryots were compelled 
to give up a portion of their land for indigo is the com- 
pulsory feature of the system to which His Honour has 
more specially alluded as contrary to free trade principles. 
Again the practice of forcing the cultivators to exchange 
such of their lands as may be arbitrarily selected from time 
to time by the planter or his servant is an intolerable 
grievance as is well set forth by Mr. Forbes even where 
there is what purports to be an agreement. In these cases 
it is obvious that the character of the agreement is such 
that no person of power and influence equal to that of the 
planter himself would think, as mere matter of business, 
of entering into it." 


The Press continued to comment on this subject 
in those days and the attention of the Government 
was also drawn to it from time to time. In 1875 
the Commissioner of Patna proposed that a commis- 
sion be appointed to inquire into indigo grievances. 
Sir Richard Temple was then the Lieut.-Governor. 
He thought that the appointment of a Commission 
would lead to agitation and he accordingly gave 
direction to district officers to decide disputes between 
planters and tenants in an impartial manner. 

When the root cause of discontent had been left 
untouched, it was not to be expected that peace could 
be restored. In 1877 Mr. Stuart Bay ley, the Commis- 
sioner of Patna, wrote that although the appoint- 
ment of a Commission had been considered inoppor- 
tune, " the fact remained that there was much dis- 
content manifest enough to local officers ". 

About this time on the retirement of Sir Richard 
Temple, Sir Ashley Eden * became the Lieutenant- 

* He had stated in his evidence before the Bengal Indigo 
Commission as follows : 

" My opinion is that in no instance within the last six years 
at least have ryots entered into any large contracts for culti- 
vation of the crop and that with the exception of factories 
which have large extent of chur lands cultivated, the indigo 
cultivation is in no instance the result of free agency but that 
it is compulsory." 

Explaining the grounds on which his opinion was formed 
he stated : 

" First, I believe it to be unprofitable and therefore I can- 
not believe that any ryot would consent to take up that culti- 
vation involving as it does serious pecuniary loss to himself. 
Secondly, it involves an amount of harassing interference to 
which no free agent would subject himself. Thirdly, from the 
consideration of the act of violence to which the planters have 
been compelled to resort to keep up the cultivation as proved 


Governor of Bengal. As has already been stated 
above, Sir Ashley Eden had been Magistrate at the 
time of indigo disturbances in Bengal and was fully 
acquainted with the activities of planters. He thought 
that instead of taking action openly which might 
cause agitation among planters, it would be better 
to get them to agree to some reforms. He accord- 
ingly impressed upon them that the practice of indigo 
cultivation under the asamiwar system was harm- 
ful to the interests of tenants, and that they 
should therefore raise the price of indigo, and that 
good feelings between the tenants and planters 
would be restored only if the latter got indigo culti- 
vated on purely business principles. He emphasized 
the fact that it was not proper for the planters to take 
forced labour from their tenants. 

The planters finding this stiff attitude of the 
Lieut-Governor which might be the cause of 
future trouble, established the Bihar Planters' 
Association which is still in existence. In its very 
first sittings, the Association decided to enhance the 
price of indigo from Rs. 9/- to Rs. 10/5/- per' acre. 
It was also resolved that no rent should be charged 

by the criminal record of Bengal. Fourthly, from the admis- 
sion of the planters themselves that if the ryots were free 
agents they would not cultivate indigo. Fifthly, the necessity 
under which the planters state themselves to be of spending 
large sums in the purchase of Zamindaries and rights of other 
description giving them territorial influence and powers of 
compulsion without which they would be unable to procure the 
cultivation of indigo. Sixthly, the statement of ryots and the 
people generally in the districts in which I have been. 
Seventhly, as soon as the ryots became aware of the fact that 
they were by law practically free agents they at once refused 
to continue cultivation." 


from the tenants for the land on which indigo was 
grown. But it must be said with regard to this last 
resolution that many did not care to observe it. With 
regard to other complaints of the tenants the Asso- 
ciation passed several resolutions which require to 
be stated as showing what grievances the tenants 
then had and that in spite of these resolutions they 
remained unredressed and were stated before Mr. 
Gourlay in 1909 and were found to exist in 1917 at 
the time of Mahatma Gandhi's inquiry. Among the 
rules then adopted, some of the most important were 
that the price of indigo should be at the rate of Rs. 
9/- per bigha measured with a pole of 6i cubits, 
that even in the absense of a stipulation to the con- 
trary, the planters could not without the consent of 
the tenant exchange the indigo land, and that 
even if the indigo land was changed, the land 
of one tenant should not be exchanged with that of 
another, and that if any complaint was made against 
any member of the Association, the Association 
should be entitled to inquire thereinto and if that 
member did not obey its orders, he would be liable 
to be removed from the Association. After some 
correspondence with the Government they also made 
a rule that if a tenant grew indigo on 3 kathas for 
every bigha of his holding his rent would not be 
liable to be enhanced. 

When these rules were formed, the Local Gov- 
ernment thought the discontent would disappear 
and it took no further steps. But it was the opinion 
of Sir Ashley Eden that one of the reasons of the 
tenants' discontent was that Zamindars used to lease 
out their villages to planters who thereby gained 
great power over the tenants and got an opportunity 


to oppress them. But nothing however was done to 
remedy this ; on the other hand, as has already been 
shown above, the planters managed to make their 
hold stronger on the Bettiah Raj. On account of the 
Bettiah Raj being encumbered, a loan of 85 lakhs 
was raised in England in 1888, and for its repayment 
a large number of villages was given in perpetual 
leases to planters. Such leases were granted to 14 
factories of which the most important were three, 
viz., Turkaulia, Peepra and Motihari. Besides, 
temporary leases continued to be given to the 
factories. Consequently, although to all outward 
appearances there was peace, discontent among 
tenants was smouldering. In 1887 there was a great 
famine in Bihar and the people in Champaran suffer- 
ed very much. The planters at that time raised the 
price of indigo further from Rs. 10/5 to Rs. 12/- 
per acre. But even this did not satisfy the tenants 
and their discontents found expression from time to 
time. In 1906 the tenants of Telhara factory murder- 
ed its manager, Mr. Bloomfield. Many of them were 
prosecuted and the Sessions Judge sentenced three 
of them to death, but on appeal the sentences of 
death were set aside and they were given six years' 

1907 - 1909 

There is a limit to forbearance. Even an ant, 
if you tread upon it, opens its small mouth to bite 
you in revenge. It has been shown in the previous 
pages that the tenantry of Champaran thoroughly 
disliked indigo cultivation. They were daily praying 
for relief against it. Things went on somehow up 
to 1907. With the beginning of 1907 signs of dis- 
content began to manifest themselves in the Bettiah 
subdivision. Some tenants of Sathi factory expressed 
their unwillingness to grow indigo on the ground 
that it was unprofitable. On account of heavy flood 
in 1906 they had lost their paddy crop and they were 
in pecuniary difficulties. The planters on the other 
hand were insisting on having indigo grown. These 
were the causes of the discontent. In March 1907 
some tenants had submitted a petition to the Magis- 
trate at Motihari in which they stated among other 

" That for six or seven years, the Sathi Factory is 
oppressing your petitioners in many ways and is exacting 
from them higher rent and begar (forced labour) and 
forcing your petitioners to cultivate indigo against 
your petitioners' wishes without adequately paying for 
them and bringing false criminal cases against your peti- 
tioners and other tenants to execute indigo sattas." 

When Mr. F. C. Coffin, the manager of the Sathi 
factory, saw that it was not possible to have indigo 
cultivation according to old methods, he sought the 
help of Government officials. Whatever the reasons 



may have been, some of the tenants were made spe- 
cial constables by the Magistrate so that there might 
be no breach of the peace. But this did not prevent 
it. There were several criminal cases in connection 
with indigo cultivation. In July 1907, there was a 
criminal case in the villages of the Sathi factory in 
which one Sundaraman Rai, a gumasta (agent) of 
the factory, charged Foujdar Dube and others with 
having prevented one Kalicharan Teli from serving 
in the factory and that they had assaulted factory 
servants who had gone to fetch him. The defence 
of the accused persons was that this case had been 
got up only to coerce them into submission. Mr. E. 
L. Tanner was the Magistrate of Bettiah at the time 
and he convicted the accused persons. 

On the seventh of August 1907, the tenants of 
the factory submitted a petition to the Collector of 
Champaran in which they fully set out their grievan- 
ces. In it they stated : 

" That instead of growing indigo at three kathaa 
per bigha, the factory introduced a new system. In half 
the area the factory had compelled your petitioners to 
grow indigo and in the other half jai (oats) and that it 
allows only Rs. 15A per bigha for jai although according 
to out-turn deducting expenses of cultivation, it comes up 
to almost Rs. 45/- per bigha. 

" That if the total area of indigo and jai cultivated 
by your petitioners does not come to three kathas 
per bigha, the factory for balance area realizes paddy at 
the rate of 25 maunds per bigha and if it is not paid in 
time, its price is realized at the market-rate at the time 
of realization, and that the factory does not pay any com- 
pensation for paddy or its price thus realized .... That bul- 
lock carts, ploughs and labourers of your petitioners and 
petitioners themselves are forced to work at J of the ordi- 
nary wages and sometimes for nothing." 

1907 - 1909 31 

They finally prayed for inquiry. Mr. T. S. Mac- 
pherson, the Magistrate, directed Mr. Tanner to hold 
the inquiry and in his order said : 

" The matters raised are of great Importance to the 
peace of the villages concerned and a sifting inquiry as 
to the existence of the causes of complaint specified is 
essential. It should be as wide and unrestricted as possible. 
I can see that certain persons are ring-leaders, but it does 
not at all follow that the agitation which is so widespread, 
is without foundation." 

It appears that Mr. Tanner's inquiry did not 
satisfy the tenants, as Shaikh Gulab, who was con- 
sidered to be the leader of the tenants, along with 
other tenants submitted a memorial to the Lieut. 
Governor in which he said about this inquiry : 

" That the Sub-Divisional Officer of Bettiah went only 
to three Mouzas and made inquries of some of your memo- 
rialists and then went away leaving the enquiry incom- 

About the beginning of November, the Sub- 
Inspector of Police of Lauriya Thana submitted a 
report to the Magistrate of Bettiah that some tenants 
were dissuading others from growing indigo and 
paying rent and that they should be bound down 
under section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. 
The Magistrate took securities from several tenants 
for keeping the peace. The poor tenants felt very 
much oppressed by these proceedings. Many of them 
even went to jail, many had to furnish security >for 
good behaviour and many were made special con- 
stables. A memorial that was submitted to the 
Lieut.-Governor evoked no satisfactory response. But 
in spite of all this the tenants did not agree to grow 
indigo ; and ultimately the Sathi factory had to give 
up indigo cultivation. Thus a heavy load was taken 
off the shoulders of the tenants. 


But it was not to be expected that the factory 
would take things lying down. It found out another 
means of realizing money from the tenants, so that 
the loss of indigo was made up in another way. 

In 1880 the Sathi factory had excavated a canal 
for irrigating its indigo land. It had 'given an agree- 
ment to the Bettiah Raj whereby it had bound itself 
to maintain this canal and to permit tenants to irri- 
gate their lands by its means without any charge. 

So long as the tenants had cultivated indigo they 
had been permitted to irrigate their lands without 
any charge. When in 1908 the factory stopped cul- 
tivating indigo, it started realizing Rs. 3/- per bigha 
from the tenants for supplying water. This tax was 
named pain kharcha (canal tax). The tenants never 
freely consented to pay this tax ; but the factory got 
them to execute agreements for it. It is alleged that 
those tenants who refused to execute agreements 
were forced to do so. A special Registrar was depu- 
ted by the Government to register these agreements. 
The tenants knew what it meant to raise their heads 
against the factory ; they consequently executed 
them even against their will. The factory promised 
in these agreements to supply enough water for irri- 
gation, but this promise remained a promise on 
paper only. Even tenants, whose fields could never 
be reached by the water of this canal and who were 
never benefited thereby, had also to pay this tax of 
Rs. 3/- per bigha. At the time of the survey of 
1913-15 the tenants of the Sathi factory refused to 
pay this water tax. The Survey Officers made in- 
quiries and found that this yearly irrigation tax had 
been realized even from those tenants who had never 
derived any benefit from the canal. After a sifting 

1907 - 1909 33 

inquiry the truth came out and these agreements 
were cancelled and this tax came to be regarded as 
an illegal exaction and was stopped. The tenants 
gratefully accepted this decision and now if tho 
tenant wants to take water from the canal, he gets 
it after paying for it. 

!t used to be the practice in the Sathi and some 
other factories of the Bettiah sub-division to get 
indigo grown without any written agreement. In 
1907-08 the tenants of Sathi factory stopped growing 
indigo. This news spread to the neighbouring villa- 
ges also. They also began to stop indigo cultivation. 
One Shaik Gulab had taken a prominent part in stop- 
ping indigo cultivation in the Sathi villages. His 
example put new life into other villagers. Shaikh 
Gulab had to suffer imprisonment and much pecu- 
niary loss for his activities but he rose very much 
in the estimation of the villagers. They began to 
look up to him as their true friend and leader. There 
was another factory named Parsa factory at a short 
distance from the Sathi factory. Signs of discontent 
among the tenants of this factory became visible in 
September 1908. A big fair is held at Bettiah at 
the time of Bijaya Dashami. People from distant vil- 
lages visit this fair. The tenants converted this fair 
into an instrument to propagate their ideas. Shaikh 
Gulab and one Sitalrai, who was an inhabitant of 
a village near Parsa began to persuade the tenants 
not to grow indigo. Some people went so far as 
to devise means for driving out the planters. On re- 
turning home from the fair the tenants began to 
talk among themselves about these matters and their 
ideas began to grow. Sitalrai devoted himself heart 
and soul to the uprooting of the system of indigo 


cultivation. He used to collect the tenants at night 
and to preach to them not to grow indigo. The 
tenants were made to take oath in these meetings. 
This agitation was, however, confined to the tenants 
of the factories of Mallahia, Parsa, Baeriya, and 
Kundia. It is said that the tenants had so organized 
themselves that on hearing a particular singular 
sound, the tenants of several villages would assemble 
in no time at a particular place. On the 16th October, 
1908, the tenants commenced the disturbance 
openly and a certain peon of the Parsa factory was 
assaulted. It is alleged that they also attacked the 
manager of the factory. News of the disturbance 
was immediately sent to the Government. The Gov- 
ernment sent military police to check it. On the 
26th October Sitalrai and a wealthy Marwadi, 
Radhumal, were arrested. People say even now that 
in those days the military police and the Gurkhas 
oppressed them very much, and particularly the 
tenants have not yet forgotten the name of Inspector 
Knight, nor can they forget those black days. Most 
of tfce newspapers commented on those incidents at 
the time. The Statesman of Calcutta deputed a spe- 
cial correspondent who wrote on the 27th November 
as follows : 

" A remarkable state of affairs exists at the present 
moment at Bettiah in the Champaran district in Bihar. 
Disputes between the planters and the ryots have led to 
acts of hostility, and in order to protect the European 
population large forces of Bengal armed police and Gur- 
khas have been drafted into the town and its neighbour- 
hood. Fifty rounds of ball ammunition have been served 
out to each member of the Bihar Light House and in parts 
the division has assumed a perfectly warlike appearance. 
Seven cases have been reported to the police in which 
Europeans were attacked. Other stories are current in the 

1907 - 1909 35 

neighbourhood of equestrians being ambushed, of frantic 
rides along jungle paths through crowds of ruffians armed 
with lathis and of inoffensive folk being molested on the 
high way. Police Inspector Knight was badly mauled by 
a bndmash with a lathi. Mr. Maxwell Smith, a planter, was 
chased by a mob and a turn-turn belonging to Mr. Moore, 
Factory Manager", was burnt at Muzaffarpur. 

" On Wednesday last nineteen persons were convicted 
here under section 143 I.P.C. for being members of an 
unlawful assembly and sentenced, besides graduated fines 
in each case, to the full term of six months' solitary con- 
finement. There are now no less than 200 prisoners await- 
ing their trial at Motihari under various charges, chiefly 
for assaulting Europeans, for arson and under section 505 
for inciting class against class. The principal accuse^ in 
this group is Sitalrai who holds ryoti lands under Mr. 
S. E. Coffin of the Sathi factory in Bettiah Sub-division. 
Radhumal, a Marwadi banker, and Ramswarath his gumasta 
were arrested recently." 

On the 18th November, 1908, there was a meet- 
ing of the Bengal Legislative Council and the Hon. 

Mr. Duke stated as follows : 

" The attention of the Government has been directed 
to the disturbances in Champaran ever since they com- 
menced. Its attention was first attracted by the actual 
occurrence of the breaches of the peace, for no representa- 
tion had been addressed to it or any of its officers on behalf 
of the persons who created the disturbance until breaches 
of the peace had taken place and the law had been 
put into motion to repress them. Government is not 
aware that any persons had to be released in consequence 
of the absence of its sanction to prosecute them, as sanc- 
tion was granted in the cases in which it was asked for. 
It is not possible to answer in further detail at present, 
but Government has set itself to restore order and repress 
crime. The neighbourhood is generally quiet and as soon 
as it is reasonably certain that there will be no further 
resort to violence, a full enquiry will be made into the 
causes of the outbreak. An experienced officer has been 
selected and furnished with full instructions as to the 


subjects to be examined; but no such enquiry could be 
undertaken without greater danger to the public peace or 
usefully conducted so long as the peace of the district 
continues to be disturbed." 

The Magistrate of Bettiah was unable to take 
up all the prosecutions for trial and, the Government 
deputed a Special Magistrate Mr. Goode. There were 
about fifty cases in which more than 300 persons 
were convicted. Radhumal admitted his guilt and 
was let off with a fine of Rs. 3,000. Sitalrai was 
sentenced to 2i years 7 rigorous imprisonment and a 
fine of Rs. 1,000. The Government further posted 
an additional punitive police force in these parts 
which remained there from November 1908 to April 
1909. The entire cost of the force was realized from 
the tenants and it is estimated that this came to 
about Rs. 30,000. 

It has been saicj above that whenever the tenants 
of Champaran have tried to free themselves from the 
miseries of indigo cultivation, the planters have 
always laid the blame of the agitation among them 
on the shoulders of outsiders. On this occasion too 
they tried to do the same by starting the theory that 
Bengalis had created this ferment among the tenants 
for political reasons. But this accusation was wholly 
baseless and the special correspondent of the 
Statesman, reviewing the situation, wrote on the 
2nd December 1908 as follows : 

" The expediency of a departmental inquiry by the 
government into the troubles of the planters and the 
grievances of the ryots will probably have been suggested 
by my last letter upon the present situation in this sub- 
division of Champaran. From enquiries I have made 
today, it seems that some action of the Government is 
generally regarded as not only desirable but necessary and 
as the wish is father to the thought, it is hinted as a 

1907 - 1909 37 

possibility that a Commission may be appointed when the 
Police Court cases are over in order that a thorough in- 
vestigation may be made. In the meantime, in view of 
this not unlikely contingency, it -is only fair to those who 
are connected in any way with the case that I should 
publish the result of my interview with the ryots and so 
to collate and confront them with the recorded statements 
of planters. 

"At the outset I must record certain alleged acts of 
reprisal on the part of the factory servants and so-called 
' friendly villages ' who, now that they are backed by 
bayonets and rifles, have, it is said, turned upon the 
' enemy ' in some parts of the district with retaliatory lathi 
blows. During the riots of the ryots some hard knocks 
were occasionally given as the evidence shows, and some 
of those who were knocked in the first place have, it is 
rumoured, been returning the compliment with compound 
interest. While walking early this morning through the 
bazaar an individual of the cooly variety came run- 
ning to me with a lamentable tale of assault and beating 
committed upon him by a factory peon. He shed more tears 
in five minutes than I should otherwise have considered 
possible in the case of a man, and pointing to his body he 
indicated by weird gesticulations a great weal which clear- 
ly indicated the impression of a bound bamboo. I gave 
him some pice and told him to place his complaint before 
the Magistrate, and as he received the money with favour 
and the instructions with disfavour, there it seemed the mat- 
ter had ended. Upon my return to the place of tents, how- 
ever, an ox- wagon drew up to my door, and by most 
pitiful lamentations my attention was drawn to the 
occupants. What I saw then is common enough to those 
who have trailed through a campaign, but unless war has 
actually broken out in this usually peaceful province it 
was a sight to be wondered at. The wagon contained a 
party of wounded men. One had a blood-stained bandage 
round his arm. Another had his jaws tied up in a cloth 
and upon this there were blood stains ; upon the party 
generally there were contusions and abrasions. A white- 
haired person in the group who did all the howling seemed 
to have nothing the matter with him at all, however, and 


it was he who told the story, the truth or falsity of which 
must be left to another tribunal, as to an alleged assault 
by factory servants, in the absence of the proprietor, upon 
his unfortunate companions. If any reliance can be placed 
upon the garrulous individual in question the planter 
would be well advised if in future he keeps a sharp eye 
upon his ' friendlies '. 

"I have been requested by some of the planters to 
deny the statement which has evidently gained some cre- 
dence, that the recent agitation was engineered by Ben- 
galee agitators. The observation appeared, I am told, in 
a certain Calcutta newspaper. One has only to live five 
minutes in Bettiah to realize the absurdity of the conten- 
tion made by the correspondent in the present instance, 
for there is an inherited antipathy, undefined as Indian 
antipathies are, between Bengalees and Biharees which at 
once precludes the argument. A Bengalee anarchist would 
probably get as much chance of a hearing in Bettiah as 
Moody and Sankey might have done in Mecca. On the other 
hand, it would, generally speaking, be just as profitable 
to expound a problem of Euclid or to deliver an exposition 
upon somatology as to preach politics to the Bettiahis. The 
existing trouble is purely agrarian. The ryots had held 
their holdings for generations, they rarely pass beyond the 
limitations of the farms ; they know nothing and care no- 
thing about the hubbub of the outside world; the entire 
interest of each one of them is centred upon his own indi- 
vidual paddy patch. In the police court evidence it is said 
that the ryots conspired to ' drive the Sahibs out of the 
country', but the country in their case means the Bettiah 
Sub-division, not the Indian Empire, and it is erroneous 
to suppose that the agitation has anything to do with 
Bengalee anarchism. 

" I interviewed today some persons whose names need 
not be mentioned, within the 'eloka of a certain factory 
where the agitation commenced in the first instance. The 
ryots in this elaka have not renewed the sallas of their 
forefathers, and they contend in the absence of any agree- 
ment to the contrary, that they are under no obligation to 
cultivate indigo on their farms for the use of the factories. 

1907 1909 39 

The Question of Compulsion 

" ' Has any compulsion been made in order to induce 
you to grow indigo ? ' was the first question put to the 
visitors from Sathi. 

" ' Since last year there has been no compulsion/ said 
one of the men, ' either as regards indigo or any other 
crop for the benefit of the factory. We have merely to 
pay Rs. 3 per bigha in order to evade the obligation to 
devote three kathas in the bigha to indigo cultivation.' 

" ' By that payment you acknowledge the existence of 
some sort of obligation ? ' 

" ' Yes,' replied the second man, 'under the old satta 
we were paid Rs. 19 per bigha for growing indigo. 
Although we have now no formal sattas we have hitherto 
been growing indigo under the conditions contained in the 
former contracts. For about twenty-five years we have 
worked without sattas. For the past thirty years no new 
agreements have been introduced until recently. I have 
never seen a aatta. The Sahib was quite willing to go on 
without them, seeing no necessity for their re-introduction. 
Last year, however, the Sahib purchased about 400 rupees 
worth of agreement stamps, and in some places, by force, 
he compelled the assamis to sign new sattas. They have 
since petitioned the Collector stating that they were com- 
pelled by the Sahib against their will to subscribe to these 
new contracts. Under the sattas a ryot receives Rs. 15 
per bigha for oats and Rs. 19 for indigo ; but from our own 
country crops we can make Rs. 40 to Rs. 50 per bigha 
A bigha would realize from 60 to 70 maunds of oats, and 
in the rainy season, when oats (a winter crop) have been 
harvested, we are able to get a full crop of paddy, which 
may possibly come to from 60 to 65 maunds, which would 
realize about Rs. 120.' 

" ' What do you mean when you say that your brothers 
were forced to sign new agreements ? ' 

" ' They were compelled by the institution of false 
charges and imprisonment. Last year there were several 
cases against my relatives and they were bound down to 
keep the peace/ 


" ' Is it not a fact that after the indigo is cut, you are 
at liberty to grow rabi for your own use on the indigo 
land ? ' 

" ' Wo are not allowed to do so. The land must be 
fallow until the next sowing in order to increase its product- 
iveness. The introduction of Java seed? is an experiment 
and at present it occupies the ground for three years to 
the exclusion of country crops. We do not want to grow 
indigo. As regards sugar-cane, it does not pay us suffi- 
ciently to cultivate it for the factories. We can make much 
bigger profits if we grow crops for ourselves in our own 

" * If that is true, how do you account for so much 
sugar-cane being sent to a factory by outside ryots, who 
are under no such compulsion as you suggest ? ' 

" ' It comes about in this way. The ryots grow cane 
in order to convert it into golden sugar. They have not 
the requisite machinery for converting their entire crops 
and what remains of the cane is sold to the factories. The 
factories have sufficient lands of their own both for indigo 
and sugar, and they should therefore allow us the freedom 
of doing as we like/ 

" ' You were contented and happy in the past while 
working for the Sahibs. Why have you changed your atti- 
tude so suddenly ? ' 

" ' At a time when food stuffs were cheap, we were 
willing to grow indigo. For the last few years, however, 
there has been draught and scarcity and the prices of 
cereals have gone up and we can now make larger profits 
from our own crops. When growing indigo we are en- 
gaged in that work throughout the year and our own lands 
are neglected and we have to pay bakahees to the Sajawal, 
the Tokedar, and Ziledar of the factories ; if we do not, 
they make us do extra work which is objectionable to us 
and the dhangara who did menial work in the past, at 
4 as. per day, have been sent away and we are compelled 
to do their task ourselves, at 5 or 6 pice. For these reasons 
we do not wish to contract with th& Sahibs for the culti- 
vation of indigo/ " 

1907-1909 41 

After the restoration of peace the Government 
deputed Mr. W. R. Gourlay, who was at the time 
Director of Agriculture and who had also served as 
the Magistrate of Champaran formerly, to inquire 
into the grievances of the tenants. He arrived at 
Bettiah on the 20th December, 1908, and began his 
enquiries. The tenants of Champaran even now 
gratefully remember the name of Mr. Gourlay and 
say that if all the Government Officials were like him, 
all their miseries would have disappeared long ago. 
Mr. Gourlay, after a thorough enquiry, submitted a 
report to the Government. That report is still a 
sealed book to the public as it was not published. 
Several times questions were raised in the Bengal 
and Bihar Councils, particularly by the Hon. Babu 
Brajakishoreprasad who was a member of the Ben- 
gal Council in 1910. But the Government never gave 
satisfactory replies and flatly refused to publish the 
report. The Press also severely criticised this action 
of the Government but to no effect. The result was 
that the suspicion of the public became deeper that 
in Mr. Gourlay's report there must be the finding 
that the tenants' grievances were well founded and 
that the planters were to blame. The Hon'ble Mr, 
Maude, while introducing the Champaran Agrarian 
Bill into the Bihar Council, said as follows regarding 
this report : 

"The result of that inquiry (Mr. Gourlay's) was a 
re-statement of all the old grievances which figured in all 
previous inquiries. Mr. Gourlay found that the cultivation 
of indigo on the Asamitoar system did not pay the ryct, 
that the ryot had to give up his best land for indigo, that 
the cultivation required labour which could be more pn>- 
fitably employed elsewhere, and generally that the system 
was irksome, and led to oppression by the factory servants." 


After this report, the Lieut-Governor, Sir 
Edward Baker, like Sir Ashley Eden on a previous 
occasion, explained the situation to the planters and 
had conferences with them at Darjeeling and Patna 
in 1909-10. The result of these conferences was 
that the price of indigo was once again raised by 
12 1 per cent, and it was decided that the tenants 
should be made to grow indigo in 2 instead of 3 
hathas per bigha .of their. holding and they should 
not be required to raise any crop other than indigo 
for the factories. It has to be stated with regret that 
in spite of this decision, some planters continued to 
cause tenants to grow in 3 kathas instead of 2 
kathas not only indigo but other crops also, such as, 
sugar-cane and barley. It must also be added here 
that after Mr. Gourlay's report, the Government re- 
leased all those tenants who had been convicted and 
were in prison. It is the belief of the people that 
that was also a result of Mr. Gourlay's report. 

The tenants of Champaran remained quiet for 
some time after these incidents. But it should not 
be inferred from that that their grievances had been 
removed. The oppression of the planters continued 
as before and the question was discussed from time 
to time in the Council and in the Press. When the 
King Emperor and Queen Empress came to India in 
1911-12, they visited the Nepal Tarai near Bhikhna 
Thoree for shikar, About 15,000 tenants assembled 
at Narkatiaganj railway station to lay their grievan- 
ces before them. The story is that they shouted out 
their grievances, but on His Majesty's inquiry about 
the cause of the shout, it was represented to him as 
an expression of welcome and joy on their part. It 
is no doubt true that they expressed their joy and 

1907-1909 43 

welcome but they also represented their grievances. 
To their misfortune, however, only the former reach- 
ed the ears of Their Majesties and not the latter. 
When His Majesty reached Calcutta a number of 
tenants went there and sent in a memorial to him. 
This was forwarded under His Majesty's commands 
to the Government of India for proper action ; but 
it was unfortunately returned to the senders on the 
3rd February, 1912, by the Government of India for 
the reason that it had not been submitted through 
the proper channel ! The hopes which the poor 
tenants had formed from Their Majesties' visit were 
thus dashed to the ground. 

In 1913 the Bihar ee which was the principal 
daily paper of Bihar wrote several articles about 

By that time Bihar had been separated from 
Bengal. Sir Charles Bayley had been appointed 
Lieut.-Governor of Bihar. It appears that the 
articles in the Biharee produced only one result, 
and that was that Babu Maheshwarprasad, the fear- 
less editor of the paper, was by some under-hand 
means removed from the editorship, and the proprie- 
torship of the paper which was formerly owned by 
a limited company, passed into the hands of a rich 
Raja, who had held the largest share in the company. 

In 1911-12 and 1912-13 the tenants submitted 
several memorials to the Government, the Collector 
and other Officials. But so far as is known it does 
not appear that any action was taken on them which 

*See the daily Biharee llth, 12th, 13th, 15th and 28th 
September, and 1st, 25th, 26th, and 27th October, 3rd December 
1912 and llth January, 4th, 22nd and 23rd February, 2nd April, 
and 6th July, 1913. 


could assure them that there was any one before 
whom they could lay their grievances. It so happen- 
ed that in some cases these memorials were for- 
warded to the very planters against whom complaints 
had been made in them. The Amrita> Bazar Patrika 
of Calcutta, commenting on this incident, unearthed 
an old incident of the Muzaffarpur district in which 
the Magistrate of Hajipur had referred for report to 
Mr. Konstam of Singhia Factory a complaint against 
him and this "My dear Mr. Konstam" practice (of 
writing demi-official letters) continued in Champa- 
ran up to 1911-12 as was shown by the articles in the 
Biharee. In November 1912 Sir Charles Bayley 
visited the Sonepur fair and there he was received 
with great eclat by the planters. They presented an 
address to the Lieut.-Governor in reply to which His 
Honour said as follows : 

" I need not say how fully I and my colleagues share 
3'our hope that the relation of the planting community 
with the officials, zamindars and ryots will always remain 
on the present satisfactory footing." 

Reviewing this speech of His Honour, the Indian 
Planters' Gazette, which is the organ of the planters, 
wrote as follows : 

" Peculiarly apposite too at this particular juncture was 
His Honour's reference to the satisfactory relation between 
the planting community and the officials, zamindars, and 
ryots, and we hope that the vivacious editor of the Biharee, 
the erudite author of the articles on the planter and the 
ryots that have lately filled blank spaces in our Patna con- 
temporary, will digest this public official utterance which 
so quietly and effectively gives the Biharee the lie direct. 
Our contemporary called upon God and Government to 
hear while he bore witness to planter oppression and 
planter extortion. Will the Government at any rate regard 
his testimony as false ? We hope that our contemporary 


has the courage born of convictions, we hope that his 
editorials were not merely attempts to foment discontent 
and discord." 

It was the misfortune of Champaran tenants that 
just at a time when they were sending memorial after 
memorial to ttie Lieut-Governor detailing their 
grievances, His Honour thought it fit to give the 
planters a certificate of character. But it is a law of 
nature that truth can never be suppressed. Truth 
always finally conquers. Whatever Sir Charles Bay- 
ley may have said in reply to an address of welcome, 
the whole truth came out in 1917. 


We have now arrived at a period when by their 
adroitness the planters put a heavy burden on the 
tenants for ever to carry. Till then the factories 
used to get indigo grown and whatever of force or 
oppression there was, was in connection with the 
cultivation of indigo. But the synthetic dyes ot 
Germany had reduced the price of indigo to a very 
great extent and indigo cultivation was not as pro- 
fitable as it used to be formerly. In some places 
there was actually loss. Many factories were closed 
in the district of Saran ; and so also many of then, 
stopped work in the districts of Muzaffarpur, Dur- 
bhanga, and Monghyr, and those that remained were 
growing other crops, like other agriculturists, on 
their land. Champaran was not altogether free 
from the effect of this competition, and there, too. 
where in 1892-97 indigo had been grown on an 
average on 91,000 acres, every year, in 1914 only 


8,100 acres were under indigo. The Government 
made great efforts to save the indigo industry. 
Many scientists began to investigate the subject, but. 
there was no chance of any profit from indigo culti- 
vation visible. Even indigo grown and manufactur- 
ed by labour which was not paid for, or if at all at a 
very low and nominal rate, and which the tenants 
were compelled to cultivate at a loss to themselves, 
instead of yielding profit now became a source of 
loss to the planters. Inscrutable are the ways of Pro- 
vidence ! The tenants saw that what they had not 
been able to accomplish by their petitions to the. 
Government and occasional outbursts of violence was 
now going to happen of itself, and they began to see 
the dawn of hope for release from indigo oppression. 
But who knew that behind the rays of dawning light 
a storm was gathering which for some time at least 
would over-cast the brightness and spread darkness 
once again ? 

The planters saw that they must give up indigo 
cultivation. The profits- that used to be derived 
from indigo cultivation could not be made from culti- 
vation of ordinary country crops. They had also 
invested large sums in tools and plants in their 
factories, and all this would be a dead loss. They 
would be reduced to the position of ordinary agri- 
culturists. They began to think of means by which 
all the loss should be transferred from themselves 
to the tenants, and from 1912 to 1914 they were en- 
gaged in this enterprise of transferring the loss that 
should have been borne by them on to the shoulders 
of the tenants. They devised various means to 
accomplish this, and of these Sharahbeshi, Tawan, 
Hunda and Harja deserve special mention. 


The land in north-western Champaran is not fit 
for indigo cultivation. When factories were esta- 
blished in those parts, indigo cultivation was not 
successful. They used to grow paddy, and in some 
places sugar-cane and oats ; but these were not so 
profitable, and the great source of their profit was 
realization of abwabs or illegal cesses. It will be 
shown later what these abwabs were. Here these 
factories are mentioned only because it was one of 
them that discovered a means of making up the loss 
to it from loss of indigo. There is a factory in these 
parts at a place called Murla. When this factory saw 
as early as 1897-98 that there was no hope of profit 
from indigo in those parts, it began to realize from 
the tenants a sort of cess as a substitute for indigo 
cultivation. It was done as follows. A tenant who 
had to grow indigo in a certain portion of his holding 
did not do so, as the land was not fit for it. He grew 
paddy instead. The factory took the paddy grown 
on the land which would have been under indigo if 
the soil was suitable, and paid a nominal price for it. 
In some places instead of paddy, its price was rea- 
lized. This system is called hunda. In effect, it 
amounts to an enhancement of rent. Take an exam- 
ple. A tenant had a holding of 20 bigha* and the 
rent payable for it was Rs. 60 per year. He had to 
grow under the tinkathia system indigo on 3 katha 
per bigha of his holding, that is, in this case on 3 
bighas ; but he grew paddy on these 3 bighas also 
and raised 60 maunds of paddy. The factory would 
take these 60 maunds of paddy at a nominal price, 
that is, it would realize besides Rs. 60/- the rent 
legally payable by him, 60 maunds of paddy at a 
nominal price. When the Government came to know 


that hunda was being realized in this way from the 
tenants, it declared the hunda to be an abwab 
or illegal cess and ordered that it should not be 
realized. Perhaps the Murla factory stopped rea- 
lizing hunda under this order but it began to realize 
harja or damages at the rate of Rs. 3/- per bigha of 
the holdings of the tenants. The damages were sup- 
posed to be in lieu of the release given to tenants 
from the cultivation of indigo which was never 
grown there and for which by act of God the soil 
was utterly unfit. About 1905 the Motihari factory 
introduced a similar system of release from indigo 
by realizing harja. It began to realize, apart from 
and over and above the legal rent, about Rs. 2 to 
3 per bigha from the tenants. When the Gov- 
ernment became aware of this, it again considered it 
illegal and tried to stop it. But the Government was 
not as impartial on this occasion as it had been on 
the previous occasion. It notified to those factories 
which had only temporary short term leases that if 
they did not stop realizing abwab, their leases regard- 
ing Bettiah Raj villages would not be renewed by the 
Court of Wards. It, however, made an addendum 
to its notification which deprived it of all its value. 
Although it had now become clear to every one that 
on account of the loss involved in the business, the 
factories were even more anxious than the tenants to 
get rid of indigo cultivation, the Government added 
in its notification that if a factory insisted on indigo 
being grown by a tenant in pursuance of the terms 
of a contract between the planter and the tenant, and 
the latter did not wish to grow it, then it would be 
open to the planter to release the tenant from the 
obligation on taking damages. No sooner was this. 


declaration made than the planters began to realize 
damages from the tenants. 

It has been shown above that the indigo planters 
knew that their position was most unsatisfactory. 
They thought it was not wise to consult the Govern- 
ment often on this matter ; and that it was necessary 
to devise some permanent solution of the difficulty. 
Readers are aware that in the villages of the Bettiah 
Raj the planters have acquired two kinds of rights. 
In some villages they were mokarridars, i.e., perpetual 
lessees on a fixed rental which is not liable to en- 
hancement. The Raj has no connection or concern 
with these villages except getting from the lessees 
the fixed rent. The planters have all the rights oi: 
a landlord, i.e., proprietary rights, in those villages 
subject to the payment of the fixed rent to the Bet- 
tiah Raj. If the income from these villages was en- 
hanced, it would go not to the Raj but to the planter, 
the lessee ; and if the income fell, the loss too would 
fall on the lessee. The Raj would be entitled to get- 
only the fixed rent from the lessee. The other clas>: 
of villages are those which were leased out by the 
Raj to the factories for short terms. It is open to 
the Raj either to resume possession of such villages 
on expiry of these terms, or to renew their terms to 
the same lessee or to lease them out to other persons. 
If 'the income of these villages is enhanced, the 
enhancement after the expiry of the term, will go to 
the Raj which may for this reason resume possession 
of the villages or resettle them on an enhanced re- 
served rent with the lessee. 

It is necessary to understand the distinction be- 
tween these two classes of rights, as the planters 
employed separate devices in the two different classes 


of villages to realize money from the tenants. The 
readers must also know one other fact. Bihar which 
was formerly a part of Bengal, has a tenancy law 
called the Bengal Tenancy Ate. This Act lays down 
and defines the rights and liabilities of landlords and 
tenants regarding agricultural landk. According to 
it there are two classes of tenants one class having 
the right of occupancy and the other having no such 
right. The rent payable by a tenant having the 
right of occupancy can be enhanced in one of two 
ways ; namely, by contract between the landlord 
and the tenant or by order of Court. But a landlord's 
right to enhance the rent by private contract is 
limited. The reason of the rule is that in the view 
of the legislature it is not safe to leave the tenant at 
the mercy of the landlord who could coerce him in 
various ways to agree to large enhancements. The 
Bengal Tenancy Act accordingly provides that a con- 
tract between landlord and his tenant enhancing the 
rent by more than 2 annas in the rupee or 12i p. c. 
is void. In 1883 when this measure was before the 
Legislative Council the planters induced the Gov- 
ernment to add as one of the exceptions to this rule 
that if the rent payable by a tenant was lower than 
the rent usually payable in the locality by reason of 
the tenant's obligation to grow a particular crop on 
his holding for the benefit of the landlord, and if the 
landlord released the tenant from this obligation, 
then any contract by which the rent was enhanced 
even by more than 2 annas in the rupee would be a 
valid contract. This was a good weapon in the 
hands of the planters, and they decided to employ 
it. Mr. Irwin, the manager of the Motihari factory, 
took legal opinion on this matter and it is said that 


Sir Rashbihari Ghose of the Calcutta Bar gave it as 
his opinion that if the conditions laid down in the 
section were fulfilled, then the tenant might enter 
into a valid contract enhancing the rent by more 
than 2 annas in the rupee. Mr. Irwin represented 
the matter to* the Government. The Government 
said that inasmuch as it had no materials before it 
upon which to find that the rent in Champaran was 
below the usual rate by reason of an obligation on 
tenants to grow indigo, it would give no opinion in 
the matter, and the planters might do as they were 
best advised but that if their action was found to be 
illegal, the responsibility would be theirs. 

When the planters had armed themselves with 
legal opinion and the Government, too, did not stand 
in their way, they placed before the tenants a pro- 
posal to enhance their rent. It has been pointed out 
above that if the rent of mokarri villages was en- 
hanced, the enhancement would accrue to the bene- 
fit of the mokarridar or the perpetual lessee, i.e., the 
planter. They, therefore, decided to have enhance- 
ments of rent in such mokarri villages. Mr. Irwin of 
the Motihari factory began the work of enhancing 
rents in 1911-12 by getting contracts executed by 
tenants. -Turkaulia, Peepra, Jalaha, and Shirni fac- 
tories were not slow to follow the example of the 
Motihari factory. The planters say that the tenants 
willingly agreed to the enhancement of their rent, 
and they gladly accepted to pay Re. 1/10/- or 
Re. 1/12/- where they had been paying Re. 1 only. 
It is urged by them that the tenants were sick of 
indigo cultivation, and when the planters promised 
to release them from the obligation to grow indigo, 
they welcomed the proposal and gratefully accepted 


the proposed enhancement. The tenants, on the other 
hand, say that they knew that indigo was now bound 
to go. It was no longer profitable to the factories. 
They knew, too, that in the adjoining districts of 
Saran, Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga m,any of the fac- 
tories had been closed and they were hoping that on 
account of natural causes these factories would dis- 
appear from Champaran also. They urge that, there- 
fore, when the proposal to enhance rent in lieu of 
release from indigo cultivation was placed before 
them, they flatly refused to agree and told the plant- 
ers that in lieu of release from the dying indigo 
cultivation they would not put this burden of en- 
hancement of rent on their and their children's 
heads, and that if it suited the planters, they might 
insist on the cultivation of indigo. The interests of 
the planters at this time, however, demanded that 
indigo cultivation should cease and tenants should 
pay in cash instead. They were not any more pre- 
pared to consider the interests of the tenants now 
than they had ever been before. The tenants assert 
that all the contracts for enhancement of rent which 
they were supposed to have made were forcibly taken 
from them. Not one or two but thousands and thous- 
ands of tenants solemnly made the assertion before 
Mahatma Gandhi that they signed or put their thumb 
impressions on enhancement contracts under compul- 
sion after being dishonoured and beaten. Those who 
had the misfortune or rather the good fortune to hear 
the statements of these thousands and thousands of 
the simple tenants of Champaran are firmly of opi- 
nion that the tenants never willingly agreed to these 
enhancements the opinions of those in authority 
and the Courts to the contrary notwithstanding. It 


is, however, true that every tenant was not roughly 
dealt with, every tenant was not tied to a tree and 
then beaten with leather straps, every tenant was 
not shut up in a chickenpen or in some dirty place in 
the factory jjeons were not quartered at the house 
of every tenant, Dhangars (a low class untouchables) 
may not have been posted obstructing the egress 
from and ingress into the house of every tenant, 
every tenant may not have been tied down and 
thrown in the hot day sun or a heavy load placed 
on his head or breast it may be that the services of 
barber, washerman, carpenter and smith may not 
have been stopped in the case of every tenant, every 
tenant may not have been made the victim of a false 
prosecution in the criminal courts, the roads lead- 
ing to every village may not have been closed and the 
grazing lands may not have been closed against the 
cattle of every tenant ; but this much is certain that 
some of the biggest and most respectable and influen- 
tial among the tenants were severely dealt with in 
some one or more of these ways, and their spirit hav- 
ing been crushed, the rest of that and the neigh- 
bouring villages were easily coerced into submission. 
It was only natural that they should submit to what 
they considered to be the inevitable. 

The reader knows that at that time Sir Charles- 
Bayley was the Lieut-Governor of Bihar. His 
policy was peculiar. He paid no heed to the petitions 
of the tenants ; but on the representation of planters 
he sent special Registrars to the factories to register 
the enhancement contracts, so that the planters 
might be saved the trouble or delay of going to the 
Registration Office, for their registration. In this 
way some seventeen special Registration Offices were 


opened in Champaran and in 1912-14, some 30,710 
enhancement contracts were registered. No more 
effective method than this could have been devised 
to impress upon the minds of the tenants that the 
Government was behind the planters in these efforts 
than this extraordinary procedure of opening special 
offices for their convenience and it had the desired 
effect of making them realize that if they created any 
trouble, they would have the repetition of what they 
had suffered in 1908-09 when large numbers 
among them were shoved into jail and special puni- 
tive police posted in their villages at their cost. They 
realized that planter and Government were inter- 
changeable terms and that they had no right to ex- 
pect protection from the one against the other. Had 
not Sir Charles Bayley made this perfectly clear by 
giving a certificate of good character to the planters 
about the end of 1912 ? To expect anything from him 
would have been the height of folly and credulity of 
which even the simple tenants of Champaran were 
not capable. They submitted to the inevitable. 

Whether the enhancements were forced on the 
tenants or whether they agreed willingly to take 
this burden on their own head to transmit it to their 
children and children's children in lieu of an alleged 
evanescent obligation which was fast disappearing 
by reason of natural causes, one thing is certain, and 
that is, that most of the tenants of the mokarri vil- 
lages of the Turkaulia, Peepra, Motihari and Jalaha 
factories did execute such contracts. In the Motihari 
factory the rent was thus enhanced by Re. 1/10/3 
per acre or by 60 p. c. ; in Peepra by Re. 0/15/- per 
acre i. e. by 75 p. c. ; in Turkaulia, by Re. 0/15A per 


acre, i. e. by 50 p. c. ; and in Jalaha by Re. 1/3/- i. e. 
by 55 p. c. of the existing rent.* 

If the average of the entire district is taken, it 
will be found that the enhancement of rent amount- 
ed to 60 p. c. or\ the existing rental. In spite of the 
fact that under the law a landlord is not entitled to 
get an enhancement from his tenant by means of a 
contract of more than 12i p. c. on the existing rental, 
it is said that the tenants willingly agreed to the en- 
hancement of about 60 p. c. The planters on their 
side agreed to release the tenants from the obliga- 
tion to grow indigo. We shall see later on how far 
this promise was kept by them. Suffice it to say here 
that when the Great War broke out and indigo culti- 
vation once more became profitable the planters did 
not desist from making the tenants grow it once 
again. They released in this way about 22,000 acres 
of land in which tenants had been growing indigo 
under the Tinkathia system from indigo obligation, 
Mr. Irwin admitted before the Agrarian Commission 
that the increase in his income from enhancement 
of rent in his moharri villages amounted to Rs. 
50,000 per annum, the capitalized value of which at 
20 years' purchase would be no less than Rs. 
10,00,000. Mr. Irwin took this enhancement from 
4.1 villages in which there were 41,005 tenants and 
realized thus Rs. 50,000 per year for five years, i. e. 
about Rs. 2,50,000 over and above their original rent. 
Similarly, in Peepra factory enhancement was taken 
from, 8,000 tenants. The rate of rent in the villages 
of that factory was lower than in other places and 

* Vide letter of Mr. W. S. Irwin dated 16-10-'17 which was 
published in the Englishman of Calcutta and reproduced by 
the Amrita Bazar Patrika dated 23-10-1&17 


the enhancement here was up to 75 p. c. of the exist- 
ing rental. 

It used to be the opinion of Government officials 
that the tenants of this factory were more contented 
than those of other factories ; but the tenants of this 
factory created more noise than those of other fac- 
tories in this matter of enhancements. Many peti- 
tions were sent by them to the Government that they 
were being forced to agree to enhancements. One 
of such petitions was submitted by one Lomrajsingh 
to the Commissioner of the Tirhoot Division on the 
12th December, 1914. This petition was signed by 
700 tenants. As a result Mr. E. N. Norman, the 
Manager of the Peepra factory, prosecuted Lomraj- 
singh and 14 others for defamation. It was not a 
civil suit for damages in a Civil Court. Very few of 
the suits of planters go to the Civil Courts. They 
find thier work easier and more convenient in Crimi- 
nal Courts thanks to the system of combining 
judicial and executive functions in the same officers. 
Readers can well imagine their reason for this partia- 
lity for criminal courts. The tenants did their best 
to defend themselves, but Mr. Beal, the Magistrate, 
convicted them and sentenced them to 6 months' 
imprisonment and Rs. 24,000 fine. The tenants 
appealed to the District Judge, Mr. A. E. Scroope, 
and he set aside the order of the Magistrate and 
acquitted the accused on the 7th September, 1915. 
We quote below a portion of Mr. Scroope's judg- 
ment which will show with what oppression the 
enhancement contracts were forced down the throat 
of the tenants : 

" For the appellants the contention is that the whole- 
sale execution of kdbulyats was brought about by nothing 


less than an organized system of oppression by the factory 
servants, hangers on and umidwars who represent the 
factory in the eyes of the ordinary ryot, and that the chief 
means resorted to were (1) stoppage of cultivation till the 
kabulyats were executed, (2) bringing in women to regis- 
ter, whose husbands or male representatives had run away 
to avoid registering, and (3) criminal cases. Again looking 
at the probabilities there is no doubt that whilst the inten- 
tions of a manager may be one thing, the acts of the factory 
servants may be, and often are, quite another. It was 
undoubtedly to the interest of the factory to substitute 
these new agreements for the obligation to grow indigo. 
This being so, it is by no means improbable that the factory 
servants would put pressure on the ryots to come in and 
execute kabulyats . . . Anyhow taking the evidence as it 
stands, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that stop- 
page of cultivation was used by the factory as a means 
of getting these kabulyats executed, and this certainly 
justified a representation to the Commissioner, as it Is 
hard to imagine a more unfair stimulus to execute a docu- 
ment, and the adjectives used an para 3 of the petition 
to the Commissioner are not unreasonable epithets to apply 
to it... Then as regards the allegations about women, the 
defence puts in kabulyats all of which, it is denied by the 
prosecution, were filled up first in a man's name and 
eventually registered by a woman . . . Certainly the factory's 
action in these instances may have been perfectly bona fide 
but the necessity has not been explained for this urgency 
and for not waiting till the men had made their periodic 

In the Turkaulia factory enhancement contracts 
were taken from 9 to 10 thousand tenants. Some of 
the tenants of that factory instituted 9 civil suits to set 
aside their contracts. They were treated as test suits 
by the factory and fought out with great care by it. 
Mr. P. C. Manuk, a distinguished advocate of Patna 
and for sometime the Government Advocate and a 
Judge of the Patna High Court, was engaged by the 
factory. The cases went on for a long time. ' The 


tenants were of course incapable of coping with a 
litigation of this protracted nature. The Munsiff in 
the first Court decided the suits against the tenants, 
but when the cases went in appeal, Mr. Sheepshanks, 
the District Judge, held in his judgipent dated 15th 
March, 1917, that in 5 out of the 9 test cases, en- 
hancements were illegal as there was no obligation 
on the tenants to grow indigo. Both parties appealed 
to the High Court in the suits in which the decisions 
of Mr. Sheepshanks went against them, and these 
appeals were dismissed without trial on account of 
the Champaran Agrarian Act having been passed in 
the meantime. But the judgment of Mr. Sheep- 
shanks shows this that it was not an easy matter 
for the factories to prove the obligation on the part 
of the tenants to grow indigo, and it is no exagge- 
ration to say that no less than 60 p. c. of these con- 
tracts for enhancement were illegal and void apart 
from all considerations of coercion and undue in- 

What happened among the Jalaha factory 
tenants is worth knowing, particularly because the 
then proprietor and manager, Mr. J. V. Jameson, was 
the representative of the Bihar planters in the Legis- 
lative Council and in that capacity he said in the 
Council that the Champaran Agrarian Committee did 
not act impartially. Let us see how his factory had 

The factory people saw that there were legal 
difficulties in the way of getting enhancement agree- 
ments from tenants. They saw that if the conditions 
laid down in the Act were not proved to exist, the 
enhancement agreements were liable to be set aside 
at the instance of the tenants. It has already been 


stated above that a tenant who has acquired right of 
occupancy is not liable to have his rent enhanced 
except under certain conditions and to a limited ex- 
tent. But under the law there is no limit to the right 
of parties to contract to pay any rent for a land 
newly settled. The reason of the rule is perfectly 
clear. If the tenant does not agree to pay the rent 
demanded by the landlord, the former cannot force 
the latter to settle his land with him and must be 
prepared to go without it ; but in case of tenants who 
are already on the land, the landlord's rights are 
limited and the tenant cannot be ejected except under 
very strict conditions laid down in the Act. The 
Jalaha factory devised a means to get rid of this right 
of occupancy acquired by the tenants in course of 
years and make fresh settlements with them which 
would be free from the obligations laid down on land- 
lords regarding occupancy tenants and which would 
also not be subject to any limit in the matter of rent. 
The factory would thus sail clear of all legal difficult- 
ies. The only difficulty was how to deprive the 
tenants of this right of occupancy. It is always open 
to the tenant to surrender his right and his land to 
the landlord and to free himself from the liability to 
pay rent. This rule is laid down for the protection 
of the tenant, as there may arise cases in which on 
account of excessive rental or for any other reason it 
may be necessary for the tenant to free himself from 
the liability to pay rent. But the framers of the Ben- 
gal Tenancy Act could never have imagined that this 
provision intended for the protection of the tenants 
could ever be used for the oppression of the tenants 
of Champaran. The factory told the tenants to sur- 
render their lands, and it is said by the factory that 


the tenants willingly, and gladly surrendered their 
valuable lands and their valuable rights in them, and 
again took fresh settlements of these very lands in 
the names of some relations of theirs on a greatly 
enhanced rent. 

Readers can easily imagine if the planters could 
force the tenants to execute indigo contracts or to 
agree to enhancements, there was no particular diffi- 
culty in their making their tenants agree to such sur- 
render of their rights. When a suit regarding such 
surrenders came before the Civil Court, the Munsiff 
decided that the surrender had been taken forcibly 
and he held as follows in his judgment dated 30th 
July, 1917 : 

" Examining the istifanama (document of surrender) 
I find it is on a printed form and it does not bear the sig- 
nature of Jaldhari. No doubt it bears the thumb impression 
of one person but it does not mention whose thumb im- 
pression it is. Plaintiff had produced the entire istifa 
book before me. I made the patwari count all the istifas 
taken from that village in that year, and the witness after 
counting it page by page stated that there were 125 tenants 
in the village and the surrender was taken in that village 
from not less than 95 tenants of the village. It is the 
evidence of plaintiff's own witness No. 2 that tenants were 
not allowed to cultivate their lands unless they paid an 
enhanced rent at the rate of Re. 1-8-0 per bigha and that 
Jaldhari surrendered the land as plaintiff had enhanced 
his rent at that rate. If that was the reason for the sur- 
render, I would naturally expect him not to take land from 
the plaintiff any more. But he keeps on the same land 
with this difference 'that its rent was nearly doubled after 
this so-called surrender. According to this witness rents of 
all tenants of the village were enhanced that year save that 
of four tenants and that saving these four men all the 
tenants had to surrender their lands. 

" The witness could not tell me any reason for this 
wild epidemic of surrender affecting all tenants of that 


village in that fateful year 1320 (1912-13 A. C.). Every one 
knows that by surrender of a holding by a tenant is meant 
total renouncement of possession on the said land of his. 
But this is a peculiar kind of surrender in which the tenant 
Jaldhari surrendered his holding on the 9th April, 1913, 
and that the tenant and his co-tenant took settlement of 
those very lands the very next clay i. e. on the 10th April. 
The reason for going through this form of surrender is 
found in the evidence of the Plaintiff's patwari. He says 
that the rent of tenants was enhanced at the rate of 
Re. 1-8-0 per bigha on the wish of tenants in lieu of not 
growing indigo. So exemption from liability to grow 
indigo was the real cause of enhancement of rent and the 
surrender was not the cause for it, rather it was a con- 
venient moans adopted to achieve that by getting over the 
legal difficulties ... It is obviously plain that what happened 
in 1320 was but a paper transaction. Exhibit I, the sham 
istifa, was but an ignominious device employed to evade 
the provision of section 29 (b) B. T. Act." 

Truly there was this " wild epidemic " of sur- 
render of valuable rights. The Jalaha factory in 
this way got an enhancement of Re. 1-8-0 per bigha 
i. e. about 55 p. c. on the existing rental. The en- 
hanced rent was realized for three years i. e. from 
1913 to 1915. Mr. Jameson thought, however, that 
in spite of all these precautions it was safer to take 
cash in one lump than this enhanced rental to be 
realized from year to year. He evidently believes in 
the wise English saying " A bird in hand is worth 
two in the bush." There was no knowing when the 
tenants would become refractory and carry the mat- 
ter to Court. He therefore proposed to the tenants 
that he would give up enhancements in lieu of lump 
sums paid by them. He admitted before the Com- 
mission that he had realized Rs. 26,000 from tenants 
who had agreed to enhancements. He says that, this, 
too, was paid by the tenants willingly. The tenants 


had no money even to pay their rents as the crops 
hafl partially failed for two seasons successively just 
before these lump sums were realized. But in spite 
of that the very tenants who were unable to pay 
their rents not only gladly agreed to pay this addi- 
tional Rs. 26,000 but paid rupees eight to ten 
thousands in cash, and executed hand notes for the 

This sum had been realized from the mokarri 
villages only. Over and above this, like other facto- 
ries, the Jalaha factory also realized lump sum dama- 
ges from other temporarily leased villages, and the 
amount thus realized would not be less than this sum 
of Rs. 26,000. Thus the tenants of this small factory 
were mulcted in the shape of consideration for re- 
lease from enhancements and tawan to the extent 
of Rs. 52,000 between the years 1912 and 1915. We 
shall refer again to Mr. Jameson's dealings with his 
tenants and leave him here for the present for fear 
of digression. 

The Jalaha factory adopted this method of cir- 
cumventing the law. Other factories adopted other 
methods. In one factory on account of the cessation 
of indigo cultivation, its own land could not be culti- 
vated to any profit. The factory was anxious to 
settle it with tenants. It settled small bits of this 
land with tenants. The rent payable for these bits, 
however, was not the rent properly and reasonably 
payable for them but to that was added whatever the 
factory considered itself entitled to get from the 
tenant on account of enhancement. The result was 
that the provision of the Bengal Tenancy Act re- 
stricting enhancement was thus successfully evaded 


and the rent was enhanced. This system of settle- 
ment came locally to be known as hunda. To make 
the position clear, let us take an example. The bit 
of land newly settled was very small. It is doubtful 
if any tenant got as much as one bigha of land thus 
newly settled. The rent payable for this additional 
newly settled land was calculated as follows. We 
have already seen that if a tenant had 20 bighas of 
land, he was obliged to grow indigo on 3 bighas. If 
for release from indigo cultivation he had to pay 
Rs. 1-8-0 per bigha as enhancement in his rent, he 
would have to agree to an enhancement of Rs. 30 
per year. Now with this tenant \ bigha of additional 
land was settled, the rent properly payable for which 
was say Rs. 5 per year. The rent, however, fixed 
under the new hunda settlement for this J bigha was 
not Rs. 5 but Rs. 5 plus Rs. 30 which, if he had 
agreed to enhancement, he would have to pay. In 
other words, the rent for that bit of bigha was 
Rs. 35 or at Rs. 70 per bigha. Calculated in this way 
the rent payable per bigha in some cases came to as 
much as Rs. 91-7-3 per bigha. In one case it was 
found that the tenants' rent for his holding of 27 
bighas was Rs. 59-13-6 while the rent payable for the 
same quantitj r of Factory's Zerait (own land), if set- 
tled, came to Rs. 659-7-0 ; in other words where the 
average rent was Rs. 2-3-6 per bigha, that for Zerait 
lands came to Rs. 24-6-0, that is, nearly twelve times 
the prevalent rent. It should be remembered that 
there was no difference in the quality of the land of 
the tenants' holding and the factory Zerait. In some 
places this difference in rent was seen in respect of 
different portions of the same plot. The reason is 
clear. The rent was not for the land actually settled. 


It was the enhancement calculated on the basis of 
the tenants' tinkathia liability. I have heard that 
in some places land which remained under water all 
the year round and in which no crop could ever be 
raised was settled in this way at high rent. In other 
cases land which existed only in the imagination of 
the settler was settled. There was no land in exist- 
ence which could answer the descriptions given in 
the settlement lease. The factory was concerned 
with realizing the enhanced rent. The tenants also 
knew that they had to pay the enhancement. What 
did it matter whether it was realized as enhancement 
pure and simple, or in an indirect manner ? When 
the revision of Survey and Settlement took place the 
Settlement Officers recorded these newly settled 
lands separately as constituting separate holdings in 
themselves the result of which was that if a tenant 
wanted to surrender them, he could do so. The fac- 
tory was of course anxious that this newly settled 
land and its rent should be amalgamated with the 
tenants' old holding and its rent. But fortunately 
for the tenants 'this was frustrated and the 
tenants were saved the enhancement. When 
Mahatma Gandhi came to Champaran, all these 
tenants in one voice declared their intention to sur- 
render these hunda lands. The factory manager 
alleged that the hunda land was of superior quality, 
that the tenants had pressed him very much to settle 
it with them, and that if the tenants surrendered it, 
he would be able to derive much more profit from the 
land than he was getting as rent from the tenants. 
When the tenants heard this they all expressed their 
willingness to surrender their lands at once, and 
Mahatma Gandhi putting reliance on the words of 


the manager took down the names of the tenants who 
wanted to surrender the hunda land and forwarded 
them to the manager. But the very same manager 
who had boasted that the factory had settled these 
lands at a loss with the tenants instituted suits for 
rents from the tenants for these very lands. With all 
this staring in their face there are people who are 
never tired of saying that the planters are in Cham- 
paran for the good of the tenants there, and what- 
ever agitation or stir there arises among the tenants 
is artificial and the creation of outsiders without any 
substance or justification and that the tenants are 
quite happy under the planters. By these and such 
other methods the planters managed to shift the loss 
of indigo on to the shoulders of tenants. But this 
enhancement was taken in villages which were 
moharri or in perpetual lease with planters, any in- 
crease in the income of which would in perpetuity 
accrue to the perpetual lessee. In temporarily leased 
villages, if the rent was enhanced, it would be open 
to the superior landlord, the Bettiah Raj, either to 
take these villages back or to enhance the rent paya- 
ble by the lessee on the expiry of the term of the 
lease. In such villages therefore the planters rea- 
lized lump sums of money from the tenants. 

There are many points worth considering in this 
connection. The planters 1 allegation was that they 
were entitled to compel tenants to grow indigo in 3 
kaihas per trigha of their holdings. It was a sort of 
personal obligation on the tenants an obligation 
of the same nature as that to pay rent. Under the 
law this obligation could attach only to such holdings 
as were burdened with it from their very commence- 
ment. Obviously it could not attach to holdings 


which were not so burdened at their commencement. 
If this obligation did not attach to the holding from 
its very inception, the provision in law permitting 
unlimited enhancement would not apply, and a con- 
tract for enhancement of rent by more than 2 annas 
in the rupee would be legally void. In villages 
where the planters were the perpetual lessees their 
rights were practically the same as those of land- 
lords ; but this mokarri or perpetual right originated 
only in 1888, and as most of the holdings of tenants 
were in existence from before 1888, when the plant- 
ers' right originated, the alleged obligation to grow 
indigo could not have attached to them, and there- 
fore unlimited enhancements, would be illegal and 
void. But even if on account of their permanent 
right in the mokarri villages, it be admitted that the 
planters had some sort of a right, it is impossible to 
understand how they could have any such right in 
temporarily leased villages in which their own rights 
were temporary and from which they were them- 
selves liable to be ejected. The Bettiah Raj which 
was the permanent and superior landlord of the vil- 
lages never claimed such rights. The planters claim- 
ed rights against tenants which they themselves did 
not possess. One can understand a tenant contract- 
ing to grow indigo for a number of years and refus- 
ing to fulfil his promise and being made liable in 
damages for his breach. The factory would in such 
a case be entitled to realize damages from him ; and 
if it chose to release him from this obligation, it 
might claim some compensation for it also. But this 
can be legal only if the contract between the factory 
and the tenant is legally valid and duly executed 
without any undue influence, force, coercion or fraud 


and after fully understanding the effect thereof. The 
tenants of Champaran had always asserted that the 
indigo contracts were forcibly taken from them and 
if they were left to themselves they would not grow 
indigo for one single day ; not only that, the terms 
and conditions of these contracts used to be such 
that no man in his senses would ever accept them as 
a free agent. Besides many of the factories had not 
even these contracts in their favour, and in many 
the terms of the contracts had long expired. But 
the planters realized cash payments as taw an or 
damages from all of them. 

Like the rate of enhancement the rate of tawan 
varied in different factories. It was calculated in this 
way. If a tenant was obliged to grow indigo in 3 
bighas, it was said that his indigo lagan was 3 bighas. 
The taivan realized was at the rate of Rs. 50 to Rs. 60 
and in some cases even Rs. 100 per bigha of the lagan. 
The average for the whole district would be between 
Rs. 50 and Rs. 60 per acre. In this way the planters 
are said to have released 18,000 acres after realizing 
tawan at the rate of Rs. 50 to Rs. 60 per acre. In 
other words they realized nine to ten lacs in the 
shape of tawan. The tenants could not of cpurse pay 
all this in cash. They paid as much as they could 
in cash, for the rest their cattle were distrained and 
other properties taken in lieu of cash. Many execut- 
ed hand notes. The notes which were executed, in 
many cases, did not show that the consideration for 
them was not cash nor did they show that they were 
in lieu of damages for indigo. In some cases false 
consideration was mentioned in the bonds, e. g., that 
the money was borrowed by the tenant for necessary 
household expenses. Those who had to pay large 


sums were required to execute not hand notes but 
registered bonds and in some of them absolutely false 
necessity for the " loan " was shown, such as, the 
marriage of a girl or the funeral expenses of an 
elderly member of the family. The tenants had also 
to pay interest on the hand notes and the bonds. Mr. 
Irwin, the manager of the Motihari factory, had ad- 
mitted that he had realized Rs. 3,20,000 from his 
tenants as tawan, and his rate was Rs. 75 per bigha. 
It has already been stated that Mr. Jameson even in 
mokarri villages realized Rs. 26,000 as tawan after 
having realized enhancement for some years. In his 
thika (temporarily leased) villages he realized tawan 
at Rs. 55 per bigha. The indigo lagan of his factory 
was 475 bighas and he thus realized Rs. 26,125 as 
tawan, out of which he got about one third in cash 
and for the balance he took hand notes and bonds. 
This he did in Jalaha factory. Before coming to 
Jalaha he was a partner and manager of another 
factory called Bhelwa Factory. All the villages in 
possession of that factory had been taken on tempo- 
rary leases only shortly before the realization of 
tawan commenced. The factory could not by any 
means force any obligation on the tenants to grow 
indigo. Mr. Jameson also admitted in his evidence 
that the indigo obligation could not be proved against 
the tenants. He had realized Rs. 75 or Rs. 80 per 
bigha all the same, from the tenants of this factory 
also. The indigo lagan of that factory was 1,600 
bighas and he must have realized Rs. 1,20,000 to 
Rs. 1,28,000. It should also be noted that after rea- 
lizing this large sum as tawan he sold the factory with 
the result that when in accordance with the recom- 
mendations of the Champaran Agrarian Committee 


the Government ordered a refund by the factories 
of one fourth of the tawan realized by them, the 
tenants of the factory did not get any refund, as Mr. 
Jameson and his partner had departed after realizing 
the taivan, and it was considered unjust by the Gov- 
ernment to force the new proprietors to make a 
refund of what they had not realized. 


It has already been mentioned that in 1912-13 
many petitions were submitted by the tenants against 
the planters. It has also been said how in spite of 
these petitions Sir Charles Bayley towards the end 
of 1912 congratulated the planters at Sonepur on the 
satisfactory relations then subsisting between them 
and their tenants. But this certificate could not long 
suppress the truth. When Sir Charles Bayley visited 
Champaran in the following February, the tenants 
memorialized him again and we give below three of 
such petitions. 


" The humble petition of the undersigned tenants 
of the village Gawandra, Tappa Harihara, Dist. Cham- 

Most respectfully showeth : 

" 1 . That the petitioners are tenants and kasht- 

kars of the village Gawandra which is in lease to the 

Gawandra Indigo factory. 

" 2. That hitherto the petitioners were required 

to cultivate Indigo for the factory at the rate of 3 

kathas per big ha, of their holdings and although against 


their wishes they had accustomed themselves to that 
service, as any refusal on their part would put them 
to serious trouble. 

" 3. That now indigo manufacture has become 
less lucrative and the factory has thought fit to dis- 
continue cultivation of indigo and fras been trying to 
realize a sum of Rs. 60 on the allegation that the 
factory would relieve the petitioners from the burden 
of cultivating indigo. 

" 4. That indeed the cultivation of indigo is a 
burden imposed on the tenants without any jusificaton 
and the tenants are rightfully entitled to be relieved 
of that burden and for the matter of that the factory 
is not entitled to realize anything from the petitioners. 

" 5. That in spite of there being no justification 
the petitioners are being coerced to make payment of 
the above sum and some of us have been compelled to 
sign hand notes. The petitioners are terrified. 

" 6. That the petitioners are quite unable to pro- 
tect themselves in ordinary course and they feel 
compelled to represent their grievances to Your 
Honour in the earnest hope that Your Honour will 
be graciously pleased to extend protection to your 

" 7. That the petitioners are at Motihari and as- 
pire for an opportunity to appear before Your Honour 
and to represent their grievances which they are un- 
able to do in writing." 


" 1. We the tenants of Mouzas Phenhara, Parsrampur, 
Rapawlia, Jamunia Nasiba, and Ibrahimpur Parsawni, Dist. 
Champaran beg to offer our humble though hearty and loyal 
welcome to Your Honour on the occasion of Your Honour's 
graceful visit to the District of Champaran and we take it 
as a forerunner of peace and contentment in the district. 

"2. Our villages are in lease to the Parsawni Indigo 
Concern and we have had miserable existence hitherto 
owing to the high-handedness of the factory with which 


our lots have been permanently blended. But we believe 
and trust that our circumstances will henceforth be chang- 
ed for better on account of Your Honour's happy visit to 
our district. 

" 3. The planters came to the district with a deter- 
mination to manufacture indigo and our ancestors and our- 
selves were made to offer ready-made 3 kathas per bigka, 
every year of our kast lands for the cultivation of indigo 
which being absolutely unjustifiable and unconscionable 
was sought to be legalized by exactions of agreements 
from the tenants known as sat fas and as slightest reluc- 
tance on our part and on the part of our ancestors would 
entail our total annihilation as it were, we persuaded our- 
selves -to be agreeable to our lot to save our honour and 
existence. But this was not all. 

" 4. The three kathas nil-sattas were followed by a 
demand of cart sattas from us and the unfortunate lot ac- 
customed themselves to the necessary evils in the expecta- 
tion of enjoying peace. But this was never to happen. 

" 5. Unfortunately for ourselves the natural indigo 
lost its value in the market and the factories, at least the 
majority of them, have given up this idea of cultivating 
indigo any further and our factory is one of them. But 
the lull foreboded a destructive storm. 

" G. The factory now demands and has been demand- 
ing for the last few years an yearly damage of Rs. 16-8-0 
or a consolidated damage of Rs. 100 per indigo bigka for 
the apparent return of relieving us from the cultivation 
of indigo which means an increase of our rents by Rs. 2-44) 
per bigha and in the other case our total bankruptcy* 

" 7. That the demand is more than can be assimilated 
and we are therefore unable and naturally unwilling and 
reluctant to consent to the payment of the same. But with- 
out any consideration of our poor and destitute condition, 
the factory insists upon the payment of the same by caus- 
ing oppression of which there are many varieties. 

" False cases have been and are being instituted against 
us, our cattle are taken from our cowsheds to the factory 
ground to be released only after payment of heavy fines, 
undue advantages are being taken of petty differences 


among the ryots themselves, punitive police and police 
guards were once requisitioned on false allegation of 
oppression by the ryots to the factory which is simply ab- 
surd and impossible ; now Dhangars who are known as 
factory's regiments, would be let on us and many other 

means would be devised to bring the ryots round. 

"8. We petitioned the District Officer representing our 
grievances and praying for protection. But he declined 
to take steps on such petition and ordered us to file regular 
complaints against the factory. We then petitioned to the 
Comissioner of the division stating our inability to prose- 
cute the powerful factory and praying for our protection. 
The Commissioner was pleased to order " Obviously if the 
tenants will not lay definite complaints nothing can be done, 
but it appears that the affairs in this dehat require to be 

" 9. The Divisional Commissioner in the last portion 
of his order* has shown some sympathy with us and has 
been pleased to remark that our affairs required to be 
watched, but that does not improve our conditions mate- 
rially. The District Officer is pleased to advise our formally 
prosecuting the factory but for that we are unable and 
incompetent. Sometimes complainants against the factory 
have been prosecuted for false complaints without the same 
being properly considered with the result that we, ryots 
are unfairly silenced and compelled to pocket all sorts of 
injuries and oppressions or to comply with the demands 
of the factory so hard, unjustifiable and ruinous though 
they are. 

" 10. Your Honour's personal presence among us en- 
courages us for presentation of grievances which we hereby 
do, trusting most sincerely that our evil days will end to- 
da} r and under the protection of Your Honour's benign Gov- 
ernment we will be allowed to enjoy peace of mind in our 
humble hearth, if Your Honour be graciously pleased to 
order the District Officer to issue instructions to the factory 
to give up its efforts to realize the illegal demand mention- 
ed above ; for which we shall, as in duty bound, ever pray 
for Your Honour's long life and prosperity." 



" We the tenants of Mouza Madhubani, thana Dhaka. 
Dist. Champaran, beg to offer our humble but hearty and 
cordial welcome to Your Honour on the occasion of Your 
Honour's visit to this district. 

" We are, Your Honour, yoked to the Nirpur factory 
which has been demanding an increase of our rent for 
our holding on the allegation that we will be relieved of 
the burden of cultivating indigo for the said factory. The 
cultivation of indigo is indeed a burden and the sooner we 
are relieved of it, the better in the name of British Justice. 
But the demand for any addition to our rental is to drive 
us to the fire from the frying pan and we are naturally 
reluctant to comply with the new demand of the factory. 

" But however justified our reluctance might be the 
factory is not prepared to put up with it and various 
sorts of threats are being held out to us by the ami as and 
the creatures of the factory and our very existence is in 
danger and to safeguard ourselves we filed a petition be- 
fore the District Officer stating the various threats held 
out to us as we necessarily thought ourselves to be quite 
unable to stand the wrath of the factory which is so 
fearful. The result of our petition to the District Magis- 
trate has been that cases under section 500 I.P.C. have 
been started and as Your Honour might well conceive, we 
are quite unable to substantiate the allegation in the peti- 
tion to the District Officer before the trying Magistrate in 
opposition to such a strong body as the factory ; although 
our allegations are true to the letter and in one set of 
cases some of us have been convicted and other sets are 
still pending judgment and trial ; but the result of these 
cases, as well, are a foregone conclusion under the cir- 
cumstances we are surrounded by. 

"It is argued that tenants are voluntarily entering into 
agreements for the increase of their rents, but slightly in- 
dependent and unbiased judgment will establish that any 
such agreement on the part of the ryots cannot but be 
the offspring of force and coercion and the cultivation of 
indigo was nothing better. 


"We are informed that a special Registering office has 

been opened and we apprehend that our annihilation is 

near at hand as the establishment of such an office will 

expedite greatly the registration and completion of that 

undesirable agreement for the increase of the ryot's rents." 

It is clear from these petitions ttyat the complaint 

of the tenants was that force and coercion were used 

in getting enhancement contracts from them. We do 

not know what action was taken on these petitions. 

In answer to a question by the Hon'ble Babu Brajki- 

shoreprasad in the Legislative Council, the Hon'ble 

Mr. MacPherson said as follows : 

" Government has received from time to time petitions 
purpprting to be signed by the ryots of Champaran and 
complaining of the relations existing between them and 
the landlords. The petitions have been referred to the 
local officers for inquiry but reports have not been received 
in all cases. In certain cases, the local officers have taken 
steps to redress the grievances which have been proved 
to be well founded. The complete report of the local offi- 
cers is still awaited and in view of the imminence of the 
revision of settlement operation in the district which will 
bring to light all the facts of the situation, Government 
do not consider that any Committee of inquiry is now 
necessary or expedient." 

About this time these enhancement contracts 
were being executed and tawan was being realized. 
The Press was also commenting on this. On the 
6th July 1913 the Bikaree wrote a strong article * 

* " The failure of natural indigo to successfully compete 
with the artificial dye has seriously affected the financial posi- 
tion of the planting community in the Tirhut division of our 
province and the loss thus entailed on them has affected to a 
large extent their relation with the tenants. We have referred 
to the evils of the tinkalhia system, and how their attempt 
to realize tawan (compensation) or sharahbeshi (enhancement 
of rent) for releasing the tenants from their obligation to grow 
indigo on three bathas out of every bigha of their holdings has 


on the subject. But in spite of all this Lord Hardinge 
was also made to grant a certificate to the planters. 

created a situation which deserves the serious attention of the 
Local Government. Villages in which indigo is or was grown 
are held either in thica or mokarri. In the former, cash com- 
pensation is being demanded which ranges from Rs, 60 to 
Rs. JOO per Inftigo bigha; in the latter, enhancement of rent, 
as would permanently raise the income. Instances have 
come to light in which coercion is employed to make the 
tenants agree either to the enhancement of the rent or pay 
the cash compensation. Some of those who do not agree are 
harassed in various ways, till they agree to the terms imposed 
by the Saheb. Numerous petitions, we understand, were filed 
before the District Magistrate, the burden of the song in each 
case being ' that the tenants were not lodging formal complaints 
against the factories but only laying their petitions for their 
protection so that, they might be of use in future and in the 
hope that the Magistrate would use his influence with the 

"And be it said to the credit of the present District Magis- 
trate of Champaran that he has on several occasions while 
sending copies of such petitions to the factory managers for 
information, made it perfectly clear that no ryot can be com- 
pelled to pay compensation in lieu of indigo against hi? will, 
that no sort of pressure can be used to compel him. He has 
further added that only if the ryot has executed an Indigo 
sattah he is bound to grow indigo, and if he refuses or neglects 
to do so, damages can be realized by civil suit. But the pay- 
ment of compensation in lieu of indigo is absolutely at the 
option of the ryot. Such a clear and unambiguous expression 
of the views which the District Magistrate entertains on the 
question of compensation has been a source of relief to the 
poor tenants. It is, however, a well-known fact that the factory 
managers and the European Mkadnrs had been practising a 
sort of benevolent despotism. But it was despotism after alL 
The principal source of profit having almost disappeared, there 
has been more of despotism than of benevolence and it behoves 
the Government to come to the relief of the poor cultivators, 
for these latter in their struggle with the powerful organization 


When Lord Hardinge visited Patna towards the end 
of 1913 to lay the foundation stone of the Patna High 

of the planters and thikadars, a very influential body cer- 
tainly, have to face fearful odds. Sometimes petitions are 
submitted to the District Magistrate on which it is not possible 
for him to take any action. For instance, in o$ie petition, the 
magistrate passed the following order : ' The petition does not 
show to what public officer it is addressed. If it is addressed 
to the District Magistrate, it is for the petitioners to state what 
action they desire the District Magistrate to take and under 
what law. If it is intended for the Collector, I do not in the 
least understand what power of interference the Collector has. 
The petition is therefore returned to the mukhtear so that he 
may make the petition clear.' We can very well understand 
the difficulties of the executive head of the District, but there 
are various ways in which he might take action and we might 
be permitted to humbly suggest to him that as the head of the 
police, he might see that they are less subservient to the wishes 
of the factory managers. Police guards are placed in villages 
where inhabitants are said to have gone out of the hand of 
the factory, and the oppressions the members of this force are 
said to practice might well be put a stop to, and in all cases 
hi which the District Magistrate is satisfied that wrong is being 
clone, although he might not be able to employ the provisions 
of any law to punish the wrong doers, he might use moral 
suasion, and we are sure this will have the desired effect. Only 
very recently a case under section 107 Cr. P. C. was tried by 
the Deputy Magistrate of Motihari exercising first class powers, 
in which 9 persons were accused of interfering with the culti- 
vation of gairmazua land belonging to the Barah factory 
and its outwork Gawandra factory threatening to commit vio- 
lence on the servants and those of their tenants who have paid 
indigo compensation known as tawan. The case for the de- 
fence was that the said factories were demanding tawan from 
the accused and other people and are coercing them to pay by 
various acts of oppression and that this case has been instituted 
by the police at their instigation with a view to put pressure 
on them so that they may be compelled to pay it, and there is 
no apprehension of a breach of the peace on their part. Now 


Court, the planters presented an address of welcome 
to him in reply to which he was made to say : "Today, 

the Magistrate who tried the case in the course of his judgment 
says : ' I have made a local inspection of the land and compared 
the cadastral Survey No. 1310 Mahal and Mouzah Gawandra 
Tola Sherpore, and it is entered in the Ehatian as 6'afr- 
Maefua Rasta (Road) Chah Pokhta ek ba Kalza Malik and it 
Is also shown in the cadastral map as a road. I have seen 
several other lands. Plot No. 1681 Mahal and Mouza Gwandra, 
Tola Ramdiha and 1275 which the factories have dug up in 
order to cultivate them, and these lands are also shown in the 
cadastral survey khatian and map as road. It will therefore 
be seen that what the factories are anxious to cultivate are 
gaimiazrua, roads that is, public roads which have been used 
by the people as such for many years, perhaps many decades 
and that it has now suddenly entered their heads to dig up and 
cultivate them and thus stop the right of way of other people. 
I may say at once that the factory is not entitled to dig up, 
cultivate and grow crops on these roads and thus stop the traffic 
altogether. The chief people that are affected by this are the 
accused and others that have not paid the compensation or 
tawan and who have got their houses, goushalas, khalihan8, 
nads etc., near them. What the factories have done is abso- 
lutely a wrongful act which is likely to provoke a breach of 
the peace and for which they want others to be bound down. 
The accused, in my opinion, were perfectly justified in resist- 
ing in the way they are alleged to have done, the cultivation 
of these roads by which the right of way would be stopped. I 
can understand no other motive on the part of the factory of 
selecting these roads to be cultivated first before other fallow 
lands (which are man}0 than the intention of making the 
existence of these accused and others that have not agreed to 
pay Indigo tawan intolerable in the village. It is a piece of 
extreme high-handedness on the part of the factories, to say 
the least of it.' In the end the Magistrate came to the conclu- 
sion, ' that the factory people have dug up the roads to grow 
crops thereon with a view to stop the way of the accused and 
others who have not paid the tawan in order to coerce them 
to submit to the factory terms and this is in my opinion at 


as far as I know, the relations between the Bihar 
planters and their ryots are cordial and satisfactory 
in the North Bihar Districts." 

In 1914 the Bihar Provincial Conference met at 
Bankipur on the 10th April. Bsbu Brajkishore- 
prasad presided over it and in his Presidential 
Address he said about Champaran as follows : 

" The highest officials in the land have utilized their 
replies to the addresses of welcome from the planting com- 
munity to bestow upon them glowing panegyrics on the 
valuable services they are said to have rendered to Tirhut. 
I do not grudge the planters these eulogiums and I wish 
them joy. But I do maintain that there is another side of 
the shield and whatever good the planters might have 
done, their dealings with ryots have brought about a 
serious agrarian situation and that they have resulted in 
considerable suffering and misery to the poor defenceless 
villagers. It is well known that the ryots' allegations 
against the planters which have been held by Courts to be 

once unjust and unlawful and that it is they who who are 
provoking a breach of the peace. It is the factory servants 
who are doing a wrongful act and who ought to be bound down 
and not the accused. If any breach of the peace occurs I would 
hold them responsible and not the accused. I accordingly dis- 
charge the accused under section 119 Cr. P. C. ' Any one who 
has any experience of Zamindari work will agree with us when 
we say that it is an ordinary practice to coerce the refractory 
tenants in this fashion. As the trying Magistrate found there 
was no other object in selecting the roads to be dug up for 
cultivation, roads which have been used as such for years, 
which were shown as roads in survey maps, except that of 
coercion, specially when it is pointed out that there are other 
fallow lands which were not sought to be cultivated. And the 
first effort to cultivate was made in connection with the roads 
where cultivation would seriously affect the accused and 
others who had not paid the compensation or tawan. Com- 
ment is superfluous and would be nothing better than an act 
of supererogation." 


generally well founded are to the effect that they are found 
to execute illegal sattas by methods of coercion, including 
the institution of vexatious cases, that fines and cesses are 
unlawfully realized from them and that they are ill- 
treated if they attempt in the least to refuse compliance 
with the orders of the planters. So far as the execution 
of the sattas is concerned, it is strange that registration 
oifices are opened at factories to suit the convenience of 
'the planters. These allegations are serious enough in all 
conscience to merit a thorough and sifting inquiry in the 
interest not only of the ryots but the planters as well .... 
In my opinion the Government will be well advised if, far 
from blinking so serious a problem, they tackle it in the 
only way possible, namely, by appointing a small mixed 
Committee of qualified officials and non-officials to 
thoroughly investigate the matter by means of an open 
enquiry and by acting upon its recommendations. Other- 
wise, I may warn the Government that there are rocks 
ahead and that they had better look out." 

The Provincial Conference passed a resolution 
recommending to the Government the appointment 
of an enquiry Committee. No heed was of course 
paid to this. The Amrita Bazaar Paprika and the 
Bharatamttm of Calcutta, the Pratap of Cawnpore and 
the Abhyudaya, of Allahabad, went on writing about 
Champaran from time to time and Babu Brajkishore- 
prasad by his questions in the Council continued 
drawing the attention of the Government to these 
articles and warning the Government about the dan- 
ger of overlooking the real causes of discontent in 
Champaran. On the 3rd April, 1915, the Provincial 
Conference met at Chapra. Babu Nandkishorelal 
presided, and commenting on the Champaran situa- 
tion, he said as follows : 

" I gather that in the twelve months that have elapsed 
since we met last, all has not been well with the relations 


between the two communities (planters and ryots). The 
ryots have presented petitions to the Government making 
very serious allegations against some of the managers of 
the Indigo concerns and the official reply in the Council 
was that the Government had ' forwarded them in original 
through the proper official channel for report'. This is 
gratifying; but one would like to know soon the result of 
the inquiries, or are they also to share the fate of Mr. 
Gourlay's Report submitted in connection with the Cham : 
paran riot of 1908 and which is popularly believed and 
perhaps not unjustifiably to be so damaging to the plant- 
ers that the Government has not dared to publish it in spite 
of repeated demands in the Imperial and Provincial Coun- 
cils for its publication." 

He, too, like Babu Brajkishoreprasad suggest- 
ed to the Government the appointment of an enquiry 
Committee. In this conference also a resolution re- 
commending such a Committee was again passed, 
and it is worth noting that Pandit Rajkumar Shukla 
about whom we shall have to say a great deal later 
on, accompanied by many others attended this Con- 
ference as a representative of the tenants and re- 
lated the story of their grievances before the Confer- 
ence. The Legislative Council met in that very month 
and Babu Brajkishoreprasad proposed the following 
resolution at the meeting : 

" That this Council recommends to the Lieut.-Governor 
in Council that a Committee of qualified officials and non- 
officials be appointed to make an immediate and searching 
inquiry into the case of the strained relations between the 
planters and the ryots in the District of Champaran and 
to suggest remedies therefor." 

It need hardly be stated that the Government 
of Sir Charles Bayley did not accept this resolution. 
In reply it was said that the Government from time 
to time had had inquiries made by local officers and 


at the time the survey and settlement of the District 
was going on, and whatever grievances the tenants 
might have would be placed before the Settlement 
Officer whose report would doubtless be authorita- 
tive. The representative of the planters in ihe 
Council and the Secretary of the Planters' Associa- 
tion Mr. Pilgate quoted the encomiums bestowed on 
them by Lord Hardinge and said that the relation 
between the planters and the tenants was quite 
satisfactory and no inquiry was needed. Babu Braj- 
kishoreprasad quoted the following from the Indian 
Planters' Gazette, the organ of the planters, in 
reply : 

" It seems certain that bad feeling has been brewing 
for some time between certain of the European Zamindaries 
at Champaran and their tenantry and that very shortly 
after he was appointed District Officer, Mr. Heycock found 
it necessary to circulate a notice amongst ryots with a view 
to reassure them." 

No one can blame Mr. Filgate for the defence he 
put forward on behalf of those whose representative 
he was in the Council ; but it must be admitted with 
regret that other non-official members also in a way 
opposed this resolution. Some of the non-official 
members who knew nothing about Champaran had 
the temerity to advise Babu Brajkishoreprasad to 
withdraw the resolution. But the latter who knew 
a great deal about Champaran did not of course 
listen to this advice. He only said in reply that if 
the Government gave a pledge to publish the report 
of the enquiry which was then alleged to be made 
by the Settlement Officers, he might withdraw his 
resolution. But Sir Charles Bayley's Government 
did not agree even to this. It was obvious that the 


report might go against the planters and the certi- 
ficate granted by Sir Charles might be proved false 
by his own officers. If the Government had accepted 
Babu Brajkishoreprasad's suggestion for the ap- 
poiYitment of an Enquiry Committee in 1913, the 
tawan would not have been realized, and both the 
tenants and the Bettiah Raj would have been saved 
this heavy fine. The Government, too, would not 
have had to eat the humble pie and Mahatma Gandhi 
would not have had to take the trouble he had to. 
But whatever God docs, He does for the best. Pos- 
sibly the enquiry and the report of the Committee, 
if then appointed, would not have been as thorough 
as they were under the Champaran Agrarian Com- 
mittee of 1917, and the tenants would not have been 
freed from the burden of tinhathia. India, too, 
would have been deprived of the first fruit of Satya- 
graha, and the residents of Bihar could not have 
seen the burning example of the sacrifice of Mahatma 
Gandhi ior the good of the tenantry of Champaran. 


It has been, said above that the soil of north- 
western Champaran is not fit for indigo cultivation 
which was never carried on in a regular way in that 
part ; but it should not be supposed that Europeans 
did not establish factories there. They used to take 
leases of villages from the Bettiah and Ramanagar 
Estates and used to make their living out of them. 
It docs not follow from this that their tenants were 
happy and contented. They had devised other means 
of making money. We have already seen how in 
1907 the Sathi factory had found a substitute for 
indigo in painkharcha or water tax. Other factories 
also, some of which did not have indigo cultivation 
and some that had it, used to realize various kinds 
of abwab or illegal cesses. Painkharcha was one 
such abwab. It was said by factory owners that 
Indian Zamindars had from time immemorial realized 
various kinds of abwabs and that the planters had 
only followed their example. They also alleged that 
the tenants willingly paid these illegal cesses which 
were equal in amount to the legal rent payable by 
them. With regard to the villages of the Ramanagar 
Raj, it is said that the rent on which they had been 
leased to the planters includes abwab. Ever since 
the Permanent Settlement was made in 1793, abwabs 
have been declared illegal and they have been prohi- 
bited by the Government. The Bengal Tenancy Act 
also prohibits the realization of abwab and prescribes 
a penalty against a landlord who realizes it to the 



extent of double the amount realized to be paid to 
the tenant. 

Abwabs are of many kinds. Their names and 
mode of realization would excite laughter, if one 
forgot that they were the cause of untold misery to 
the tenant. Some of these are described below, as 
their mere names may not be intelligible. 

(1) Painkharcha means a tax or rate paid 
for water supplied by means of a canal for irrigation. 
If there were really pains in existence, and the 
tenants benefited by them by irrigating their lands 
with the canal water no one would object to this rate 
being realized. The tenants not only in Bihar but 
in other provinces also pay canal rates to the Gov- 
ernment for irrigating their lands with water from 
Government canals ; and no one raises any objection 
to such rates. But in Champaran this painkharcha 
was an abwab. The Sathi factory used to realize it 
without making any satisfactory arrangement for the 
supply of water. In other factories also it used to be 
similarly realized without any justification. In all 
these places the rate was Rs. 3 per bigha. There is 
a factory called Chautarwa in northwest Champaran. 
There are many " Dhangar " * tenants. Land is not 
settled there by measurement. The rent is not paid 
at so much per acre but so much per plough, that 
is, so much for as much land as can be cultivated 
with one plough. The system is known as halband. 
The Dhangar tenants used to pay Rs. 7-8-0 per plough 
as rent and an equal amount was realized as 
painkharcha from them. There is another factory 

" Dhangars " are a class of aborigines imported from 
Chota Nagpur and settled in Champaran. 


called Madhubani which is owned by the same pro- 
prietor as Chautarwa. There is an embankment 
called the Piprasi Embankment. It is alleged by the 
factory that this embankment was made at the cost 
of the factory, ajid it is also maintained by it, and it 
is accordingly entitled to realize painkharcha, or 
water-rate from the tenants. No one knows what its 
construction cost the factory, but its upkeep does 
not cost more than Rs. 300 per year. The income 
of the factory from painkharcha, and an embankment 
cess was as much as Rs. 9,000 per year. The tenants 
say that the embankment was made by the Dhangars 
without their charging any wages from the factory ! 
Similarly the Belwa and Naraipur factories used to 
realize painkharcha, and their allegation too, was 
that they had constructed canals for the benefit of 
tenants. The settlement officers of the Government 
could not discover these canals, and even where they 
were found, only a small portion of the lands on 
which painkharcha, was levied was benefited by 
them. The Bhusurari factory frankly confessed that 
it had no canals but it realized the painkharcha all 
the same ! 

Let us have the story of another factory. Its 
name is Sikta. The proprietor was one Mr. Thorpe. 
He saw that painkharcha might be declared an 
abwab and its realization stopped. He thought it 
safer and wiser to realize a lump sum instead. He 
accordingly tried to realize 6 years' painkharcha in 
one sum and succeeded in realizing it, too, from some 
of the tenants, but many did not pay. In the mean- 
time the settlement officers arrived and the whole 
show was over. A large sum was due from this very 
Mr. Thorpe on account of rent to the Bettiah Raj, 


and the Court of Wards remitted Rs. 80,000 ai one 
stroke for his, it would seem, invaluable services ! 

(2-4) Salami, Tinhathia and Lagan, are various names 
for Rs. 3 per bigha that used to be realized over and 
above the rent. That it should be called tinkathia 
is very significant. It does not prove that indigo 
used to be grown in northwestern Champaran also 
under the tinkathia system. But tenants felt that 
as in eastern and southern Champaran their com- 
patriots had to bear the burden of indigo, so also 
should they bear the burden of this abwab. This is 
well illustrated in Bhusurari factory. The factory- 
started by realizing 3 maunds of paddy per bigha 
which it later on commuted into a cash payment of 
Rs. 3 per bigha. In the Murla and Hardia factories 
also this abwab was realized in this way. The 
tenants naturally thought that whether it was for 
indigo or as abwab, they had to pay to the European 
Planter, and it made no difference to them by what 
name others called it whether painkharcha, tin- 
kathia, lagan or salami. 

(5) Bandhbehri is an abwab like painkhar- 
cha ; its rate is one anna per rupee of the rent. 

(6) Bethmafi We have already mentioned 
that in Chautarwa factory Rs. 7-8-0 used to be the 
rent and Rs. 7-8-0 abwab per plough. Bethmafi 
also used to be realized by that factory. The factory 
had some lands which used to be cultivated with the 
help of the ploughs of the tenants. It is said that 
it was very irksome to the tenants to supply their 
ploughs to the factory and they gladly commuted this 
obligation into money payment at the rate of Rs. 3 
per plough. This was called bethmafi, i.e., an abwab 
paid in lieu of beth. The poor tenants of that factory 


had thus to pay over and above their legal rent of 
Rs. 7-8-0 per plough, an additional Rs. 7-8-0 as 
painkharcha and Rs. 3 as bethmafi per plough. 

(7) Bapahi-Putahi When a tenant dies his 
son or heir has t to pay a sort of death duty which 
is known by this name. It should be noted, how- 
ever, that under the Bengal Tenancy Act the right 
of an occupancy tenant is heritable without any such 
payment but the planters would not allow the heir 
his legal right without this payment. 

(8) Marwach is a tax of Re. 1-4-0 realized at 
the time of the marriage of a tenant's child. 

(9) Sagaura was a tax of Rs. 5 realized at 
the time of a remarriage of a widow. 

(10) Kolhu-awan was a tax of Re. 1 realized 
for every oil or sugarcane mill. 

(11) Chulhi-awan In some places turmeric is 
cultivated in large quantities and before being placed 
in the market, it has to be boiled. This was a tax 
of Re. 1 for every oven kept for boiling turmeric. 

(12) Batchhapi was a tax realized from sellers 
of oil and milk> and the rate was Re. 1 for every pail 
kept by the seller. 

(13) Bechai used to be realized from those 
who sold grain and the rate was Re. 1 or Rs. 2 per 

(14) Phaguahi, (15) Dasahari (16) Chaitnawami, 
(17) Dawatpuja used to be kinds of cesses realized 
by the planters or their employees from the tenants 
on the occasions of Hindu festivals of Phagua or Holi, 
Dasahra, Chaitnawami and Dawatpuja. It is said 
that some factories used to give dancing parties on 
the occasion of the holi festival. The factory em- 
ployees used to enjoy the dancing and the tenants 


were also invited. But whether they came or not 
they had to pay Re. 1 each. 

(18) Hathiahi There are jungles in north- 
western Champaran. Planters and other Europeans 
often go there for shikar. Elephants were required 
for these shikars and the planters have therefore to 
keep elephants. When they wanted to purchase 
elephants, the tenants had to raise money from 
among themselves under the name of Hathiahi, i.e.. 
a tax for an elephant. 

(19) Gharahi, (20) Motorahi, or Hauwhi. (21) 
Nawahi used to be similar exactions to enable the 
planter to purchase a horse, a motor car or a boat. 

(22) Ghawahi If the planter fell ill, his loyal 
tenant, had to find the money for his treat- 
ment. It is said of one planter that he had 
a sore which required operation and treatment 
for a prett}' long time. This involved much expense 
which was realized from tenants under the name 
of Ghawahi i. e., a tax to meet the expenses of the 
treatment for a sore. 

(23) Amahi, (24) Katahalahi,~When there was 
a bumper crop of mangoes and jack fruits, the 
factory ordered the mangoes and jack fruits to be 
distributed among tenants. If any one had the 
temerity to refuse this favour, he incurred the 
wrath of the Sahib. But the mangoes were soon 
followed by the factory peon to realize their price. 
The price was, however,- not settled according to 
the market rate but varied with the capacity of the 
tenant to pay. 

(25) Amadi Salami If the planter or any big 
officer of the factory visited a village, the tenants 


must of course appear before him to pay his res- 
pects to him. But how could that be done empty- 
handed ? Therefore even if a tenant did not care 
to present himself but deposited Re. 1 with the fac- 
tory servant, al\ would be well with him ; otherwise 
he was taught a lesson in manners. 

(26) Rasidawan was paid to the village officer 
at the rate of one anna per every receipt he issued 
for rent realized from the tenants. 

(27) Farkhawan was a similar tax to be paid 
by the tenant for an acquittance receipt granted 
at the close of the year as proof of the payment of 
the rent for the year in full. Its rate varied from 8 
annas to one rupee for every tenant. 

(28) Dasturi, (29) Hisabana, (30) Tahrir. (31) 
Dewan dasturi used to be various kinds of cesses 
realized from the tenants at the rate of 6 pies to 
one anna per rupee of their rent. The amount 
realized under this head used ordinarily to go to 
the pockets of the factory servants but in some cases 
the factory took hold of this also. 

(32) Bisahi, Pandrahi, Dasahi It has been 
pointed out already that the Sikta factory, some 
time before the settlement proceedings, tried to 
compound the abwab by realizing it for several years 
in one lump. It is said by the tenants that in Chau- 
tarwa factory abwab was realized for 20, 15 or 10 
years in one lump sum. Those tenants who could 
not pay in cash had to execute hand notes as was 
done in the case of tawan It was realized on the 
pretext of releasing the tenants from the obligation 
to pay abwab just as tawan had been realized on the 
pretext of releasing them from the obligation to grow 


There were several other kinds of abwabs, e.g., 
(33) Mahapatri, (34) Raj~ank t (35) Mukhdekhi, (36) 
Diwanbheti, (37) Gurubheti, (38) Jangla isimnavisi, 
(39) Dahicheoraha, (40) Jamunahi, etc. 

These were all abwabs. But apart from these all 
the planters, whether they were actual planters as in 
eastern or southern Champaran or only lessees as 
in northwestern Champaran, used to realize fines. 
Many of the planters admitted this before the Agra- 
rian Commission, but said that only small amounts 
used to be realized and out of the sum realized a parr, 
was kept by the factory and a part paid to the com- 
plainant as damages. 

The tenants mentioDed a punishment with a 
peculiar name. If a woman goes wrong with a man, 
the latter, if discovered, is punished. This punish- 
ment is called Singarhat. It is said that this is pre- 
valent in Nepal also. The factories used to realize 
decent amounts under this head of singarhat. From 
the names of abwabs mentioned above it is clear that 
the planters know how to extract money from tenants 
on some pretext or other. But it will not be right 
to think that every tenant had to pay each and every 
kind of abwab every year. Some of these were doubt- 
less realized every year some on special occasions 
and some from particular tenants. It is the opinion 
of the Settlement Officer that the incidence of abwab 
was equal to the legal rent, that is, every tenant had 
to pay double the amount he was legally liable to pay. 

The planters say that these abwabs have come 
down from time immemorial, and that the leases to 
them are on a system of rackrenting leaving no 
margin of profit to them unless they realize abwab. 
They also say that in some cases the rent payable by 


them from their leasehold exceeds that realizable by 
them from the tenants and in some cases abwabs 
are actually mentioned in their leases. How then, 
they argue, can they do without realizing these ab- 
wabs ? Mr. Ampion, the Manager of the Belwa Fac- 
tory, and who has the reputation of being a zabardast 
planter, said in his evidence in defence of abwab 
before the Commission "Is the thikedar to blame 
for collecting these abwabs, for the thikedar is paid 
to squeeze and must squeeze to pay." It is however 
not true to say that the leases would not be profitable 
without these abwabs. 

Mr. J. A. Sweeney, the Settlement Officer, prov- 
ed this fact before the Commission regarding the Bet- 
tiah and Ramanagar leases. The Bettiah Raj pays 
10 p. c. as commission to lessees. As regards the 
Ramanagar Raj villages, he showed by calculation 
that for 79 villages which were in lease the lessee had 
to pay Rs. 40,809 as rent to the Raj, but that he was 
entitled to realize only 40,547 as rent from the 
tenants, that is, less than what he had to pay. But 
if the income derived from the bakasht and hunda 
lands be added to the rent realizable, then the total 
income would come to Rs. 70,700, that is a clear profit 
of Rs. 30,000 which works out at the rate of 75 p. c. 
as commission for collecting the rent from the 
tenants. The readers should remember that apart 
from this the lessee realized abwab which also was 
equal to the legal rent, that is 40,000. It should, how- 
ever, be added that the lessee had to pay a heavy 
premium at the commencement of the lease, but that 
of course is nothing when compared with 75 p. c. for 
collection charges and the 100 p. c. abwab on the 
legal rental. 


The tenants had sent petitions to the Govern- 
ment and Government officials about these abwabs, 
and when Babu Brajkishoreprasad moved a resolu- 
tion in the Legislative Council for the appointment 
of an Enquiry Committee, the Hon'ble Mr. Levinge, 
who spoke on behalf of the Government, pointed out 
that Babu Brajkishore had made a mistake in treating 
all Europeans in Champaran as planters, whereas 
many of them had never cultivated or manufactured 
indigo at all. He also stated that the petitions of the 
tenants from the northwestern portion of Champaran 
were not about indigo but about abwab, and there- 
fore they furnished no ground for holding any en- 
quiry so far as the indigo planters properly socalled 
were concerned. He further stated that these peti- 
tions about abwab had been forwarded to local 
officers for inquiry. No doubt this criticism of the 
Hon'ble Mr. Levinge was literally true, but the fact 
remains that the tenants of Champaran do not make 
any distinction between an indigo planter and an 
European who extracts abwab from them. To them 
both represent one and the same thing a money 
extracting agency. 

The District Collector held enquiries on the basis 
of these petitions and as a result issued a notice on 
the 18th May, 1914, to the effect that with regard to 
the complaints of the tenants that the Chautrawa 
Factory was demanding Rs. 15 per bigha, the fac- 
tory had assured him that this demand was not made 
and that the tenants should not pay it, even if the 
demand was made. The tenants of Belwa, Sikta 
Chautrawa, Madhubani, and Naraipur went on sub- 
mitting such petitions complaining about abwab to 
the Collector, the Commissioner and the Lieut.- 


Governor of the Province. But this grievance was 
not fully dealt with until the Settlement Proceedings 
when Mr. Sweeney after a thorough enquiry submit- 
ted a report in June, 1915. The complaints of the 
tenants were mostly found by him to be true in this 
report, and orders were issued to stop realization of 
abwabs. In the villages of the Bettiah Raj collection 
of abwab was stopped after the issue of these orders, 
but it continued in the villages of the Ramanagar Raj. 


The readers will remember that Babu Braja- 
kishoreprasad had proposed the appointment of a 
Committee to inquire into relations between the 
planters and their tenants. The Hon'ble Mr. Levinge 
had in reply said that such a Committee was unneces- 
sary as the Government had deputed officers for a 
revisional survey and settlement of the District and 
that these officers would listen to and inquire into 
the grievances of the tenants, and that the Govern- 
ment would take such action as was deemed neces- 
sary on the receipt of the report of the Settlement 
Officer. This work of Revisional Survey and Settle- 
ment started in Champaran in 1913. 

The Settlement Officer held a sifting inquiry into 
the question of abwab, and it is no exaggeration to 
say that if he had not dealt with this question as 
thoroughly as he had done, Mahatma Gandhi's work 
would have been even more difficult than it wag. The 
Settlement Officer openly declared the painkharcha 
to be an illegal abwab and told the tenants that they 


could not be legally compelled to pay it. His subor- 
dinates held detailed inquiries from village to village 
as to what large and small canals there were and 
as to their capacity to irrigate the lands of the tenants 
and the amounts realized from them. It is said that 
one officer ordered that water should be allowed to 
flow freely to see how far it could irrigate the lands 
and he himself waited there to see the result. But 
in spite of all the efforts of the factory employees, 
the water could not go far. and thus the officer saw 
with his own eyes the inequity of the painhharcha. 
He reported to the Settlement Officer that this 
painhharcha was altogether illegal and the latter 
verified this report by his own personal inquiries. On 
his report the Government ordered this realization to 
be stopped. This was stopped soon in the Bettiah 
Raj, which being under the Court of Wards, is direct- 
ly in Government control but the lessees of the 
Ramanagar Raj continued realizing it. The tenants 
of some villages, however, became emboldened 
and refused to pay it ; but wherever the lessees could 
get the upper hand, they realized it. The readers 
will also recollect that under the Bengal Tenancy 
Act a person who realizes abwab is liable to pay 
double the amount realized by him as penalty. But 
no steps were taken to enforce the law even against 
such of the planters as admitted having realized ab- 
wab. We do not know who is responsible for this. 
The Settlement Officer deserves the thanks of all for 
the action he took in stopping abwab. He acted very 
impartially and boldly in this matter. 

This is what happened in north-western Cham- 
paran. There were no abwabs on such extensive 
scale in south-eastern Champaran. There the trouble 


was about tinkathia, sharahbeshi (enhancement of 
rent) and tawan. The Settlement Officer had not the 
power to do anything about tawan, that used to be 
realized from the tenants, and he had no authority 
to interfere. But the question of tinkathia and 
sharahbeshi came up before him. It has to be stated 
with regret that in dealing with these questions he 
did not act with the sarue circumspection and care 
as he had shown in dealing with abwab. 

The tenants stated before him that enhance- 
ment agreements were forcibly taken from them. He 
decided that coercion was not proved. It was argued 
on behalf of the tenants that these agreements were 
illegal under the Bengal Tenancy Act. He held that 
most of them were valid. The decision cannot be 
said to be impartial or just ; for, as has already been 
mentioned, in deciding nine cases of the Turkaulia 
factory, the munsiff took several months. The Set- 
tlement Officer decided 25 to 30 thousands of such 
cases within a few months. Then again in 5 out of 
the 9 cases of Turkaulia, these agreements were held 
to be invalid and their validity was upheld only in 
four of them. But the Settlement Officer had held 
most of them to be valid in favour of the planters. 
One thing more deserves to be mentioned. When it 
was proved that the agreement for enhancement was 
taken under undue influence or coercion and was 
consequently invalid, the Settlement Officer recorded 
it in the Record of Rights of the tenants that they 
were under an obligation to grow indigo in 3 bathos 
for every bigha of their, holding, which in other words 
was only placing a weapon in the hands of the plant- 
ers to oppress the tenants. It is not intelligible to 
ordinary men that tenants who had been fighting 


against tinkathia for generations and who had 
almost gained a victory, would easily give away the 
fruits of their victory and agree to compromises. But 
the Settlement Officer recorded a large number of 
such compromises and enhanced their rents. The 
result naturally was that there was great discontent 
among tenants who had become desperate. They 
had hoped that the settlement officer deputed by the 
Government would redress their grievances ; but 
when they were disappointed even by him, their 
miseries became unbearable. Champaran was seeth- 
ing with this discontent when Mahatma Gandhi 
arrived on the scene. 

It must be admitted that the Settlement Officer 
can justly lay claim to the credit of having put a new 
life into the tenantry of Champaran. The tenants 
learned to talk face to face to the planters in these 
Settlement Courts. It was in these courts that the 
tenants could see that the planter and the Govern- 
ment were not interchangeable terms, and that even 
such a thing as a decision against a planter was possi- 
ble. No wonder then that, when Mahatma Gandhi 
arrived, they came in their thousands to him to tell 
him their woeful stories. 

We have no doubt whatever that the decision of 
the Settlement Officer regarding sharahbeshi was 
wrong. But it is a question on which there is room 
for difference of opinion. To err is human, and even 
if the Settlement Officer erred, as we have no doubt 
he did, we cannot lay any blame on him. 

The Settlement Officer decided another matter 
also. Whenever the tenants of Champaran have tried 
to free themselves from the planter tyranny, the 
planters have always alleged that the tenants are 


quite happy, that the relations between them and 
their tenants are cordial, and that it is only under the 
instigation of outsiders or of self-seeking men of 
Champaran that at times these happy and contented 
tenants get out t of hand ; so that if these instigators 
are got out of the way, all will be well. The Govern- 
ment also often accepted this story of the planters. 
But we have seen that whenever an inquiry has been 
held, no instigator has been discovered, while the 
allegations of the tenants have almost always been 
found to be true. 

When Mahatma Gandhi arrived in Champaran, 
not only the planters but some Government officers 
also trotted out the same old story of an agitation 
manufactured by outside agency, but we shall pre- 
sently see how they failed in their attempt to side- 
track the inquiry. 


The thirty-first session of the Indian National 
Congress met at Lucknow in December, 1916. About 
2,300 delegates from various parts of India attended 
it. After the split at Surat, Lokamanya Tilak for the 
first time attended the Congress with his followers. 
The Deccan and Sindh camps were full. The number 
of delegates from Gujarat, Madras and the Central 
Provinces was also considerable. For U. P. people 
to attend in large numbers was no matter of surprise, 
as the Congress was held in their Province. Mrs. 
Annie Besant with her followers came from Madras. 
Bengal had also sent a large number of delegates 


with the President. Even Bihar was awake and sent 
a large contingent of delegates. The reason for this 
was that it was proposed to place some important 
resolutions before the Congress on behalf of Bihar. 
Mahatma Gandhi accompanied by his son had also 
come from Gujarat and had taken his residence in a 
camp near the pandal. 

It was proposed to place two resolutions on be- 
half of Bihar. One regarding the Patna University 
Bill, and the other regarding the relations between 
the planters and their tenants of Champaran. Before 
placing this last resolution before the Subjects Com- 
mittee some people saw Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit 
Madanmohan Malaviya and other leaders and dis- 
cussed the matter with them. Pandit Malaviya knew 
something about it but Mahatma Gandhi knew abso- 
lutely nothing. When the names of speakers on the 
resolution were being selected in the Subjects Com- 
mittee Bihar delegates requested Mahatma Gandhi to 
speak, but he said that he knew nothing about the 
matter, and unless he made himself acquainted with 
the situation, he would say or do nothing. The bur- 
den of proposing the resolution fell upon Babu Bra- 
jakishoreprasad. On the second day of the session 
the following resolution was proposed before the Con- 

" The Congress most respectfully urges on the Gov- 
ernment the desirability of appointing a mixed Committee 
of officials and non-officials to inquire into the causes of 
agrarian trouble and the strained relations between the 
Indigo ryots and the European Planters in North Bihar 
and to suggest remedies therefor." 
It is worth mentioning here that it was perhaps 
the first time in its history that the Congress had to 
listen to the grievances of the tenants from the lips 


of a tenant. The tenants of Champaran had sent 
Pandit Rajkumar Shukla as their representative to 
the Congress and he, in supporting the resolution, 
related the miserable plight of the Champaran 

It was the desire of Bihar and particularly Cham- 
paran delegates that Mahatma Gandhi should visit 
Champaran and see with his own eyes the pitiable 
condition of its people and devise means for impro- 
ving it. Some people had also sent a letter to him, 
and one gentleman had even seen him at Ahmedabad 
in this connection. But on account of want of time 
Mahatma Gandhi had not been able to comply with 
their request. After the above resolution was adopt- 
ed by the Congress, the Bihar delegates approached 
him and pressed him to come to Bihar. He promised 
he would try to come about following March or 
April. People were very much satisfied and on their 
way back some people accompanied him to Cawn- 
pore and further related to him the woeful story of 
the tenants. His heart melted and he consoled them. 
They came back to Champaran full of hope and began 
to count the days of his advent. 

After returning from Lucknow a letter was again 
sent by Pandit Rajkumar Shukla on behalf of the 
tenants on the 27th February, 1917. 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote in reply that he would 
be in Calcutta on the 7th March and enquired where 
Rajkumar Shukla could meet him. On account of 
some mistake of the post office the letter unfortunate- 
ly did not reach Rajkumar Shukla till after the 7th 
March. He had however received information that 
the Mahatma had gone to Calcutta but on arriving 
there he learnt that the Mahatma had already left the 


place for Delhi. Rajkumar Shukla returned to Cham- 
paran and wrote again to Mahatma Gandhi and re- 
ceived a reply on the 16th March, 1917, saying that 
the Mahatma would take the earliest opportunity of 
visiting Champaran. On the 3rd April, 1917 Mahatma 
Gandhi wired to Rajkumar Shukla that he was going 
to Calcutta where he would stay with Mr. Bhupen- 
dranath Basu and asked Rajkumar Shukla to meet 
him there. On receipt of this telegram Rajkumar 
Shukla went to Calcutta apd met the Mahatma there. 
No one in Bihar knew anything about all this at the 
time, so much so that some members from Bihar 
were present at the meeting of the All India Congress 
Committee to attend which Mahatma Gandhi had 
gone to Calcutta, but as it was not known that he 
was proceeding to Champaran from Calcutta, no one 
had any talk with him. Rajkumar Shukla, too, did 
not meet any of the Bihar members who consequently 
remained utterly ignorant of Mahatmaji's intended 

Mahatma Gandhi started on the 9th April, 1917, 
with Shuklaji and arrived at Patna on the 10th April, 
1917. Shuklaji took him straight to the house of 
the writer. The writer was absent in Calcutta for 
the meeting of the All India Congress Committee and 
had proceeded from there to Puri and had not re- 
turned till then to Patna. There was only a servant 
in the house. He did not recognize the distinguished 
guest and treated him as an ordinary visitor. The 
Mahatma stopped there for a short while. When 
news of his arrival reached Mr. Mazharul Haque he 
came and took the Mahatma to his house. The 
Hon'ble Babu Krishnasahay also came and saw the 
Mahatma there. The latter had decided to proceed 


to Muzaffarpur the same evening and sent tele- 
graphic information to Mr. J. B. Kripalani who was 
at the time, a Professor in the G. B. B. College, 
Muzaffarpur. Mahatmaji started in the evening with 
Shuklaji for Muzaffarpur. The train reached Muzaf- 
farpur at 10 o'clock at night. Professor Kripalani had 
received the telegram and was present at the station 
with some of his students to receive Mahatmaji. 
Although there had been correspondence between 
Mahatma Gandhi and Professor Kripalani they had 
never met before. No one could recognize him, but 
when Pandit Rajkumar Shukla saw the crowd of peo- 
ple he understood that they must have come to 
receive the Mahatma and he called them and showed 
the great man to them. People gave a reception at 
the station, took his arti, and dragged his carriage. 
Mahatmaji stopped with Professor Kripalani in his 

On the llth April, 1917, Mahatma Gandhi saw 
Mr. J. M. Wilson, the Secretary of the Planters' Asso- 
ciation, explained to him the object of his visit, told 
him that he had come to inquire into the causes of 
the misunderstanding between the tenants and the 
planters, and asked for his help in his inquiry. Mr. 
Wilson told him that he would give such assistance 
as he would be able to render in his personal capa- 
city but he could not take any responsibility on 
behalf of the Association. The same evening a 
number of vakils of Muzaffarpur came to see Mahat- 
maji. One of them pressed Mahatmaji to proceed to 
Champaran at once. Mahatmaji agreed. On the 
12th April, 1917, Mahatmaji sent intimation of his 
arrival to the Hon'ble Mr. L. F. Morshead, the Com- 
missioner of the Tirhut Division, and informed him 


of the object of his visit and asked for an appointment 
to meet him. On the same day Mr. Wilson wrote to 
Mahatmaji saying that no inquiry was needed and 
advised him not to go to Champaran. He also said 
that if Mahatmaji commenced this work during war 
time, self-seeking agitators would utilize the opportu- 
nity for their selfish ends which might do more harm 
than good to those to help whom he came. Babu 
Brajakishore arrived at Muzaffarpur from Darbhanga 
the same evening. On the 13th April, 1917, Mahatma- 
ji saw the Commissioner. Mr. D. Weston, the Col- 
lector of Muzaffarpur, was also present there. The 
Commissioner expressed his disapproval of Mahatma- 
ji's visit to Bihar and inquired who had brought him 
there. He also told him that inquiry was being made 
on behalf of the Government ; that Mahatmaji's visit 
was unnecessary ; that he would not give any assist- 
ance to him in his inquiry and finally advised him 
to go away at once. Mahatmaji told him in reply 
that he had been receiving letters from the people 
for a long time but he could not produce them before 
him ; that at the last Congress the delegates from 
Bihar had asked him to move a resolution at the 
Congress regarding Champaran but that he had 
refused to do so on the ground that he would not 
make himself a party to it unless he had seen things 
with his own eyes ; and that thereupon the delegates 
had asked him to visit Champaran and he was ac- 
cordingly there. 

Mahatmaji was not likely to change his decision 
on account of this conversation with the Commis- 
sioner. The more the Secretary of the Planters' 
Association and the Commissioner persisted in their 
advice to him not to visit Champaran, his suspicion 


that there must be something wrong became deeper 
and his determination to go there more and more 
confirmed. The Mahatma could see after this inter- 
view that the planters and the local officials could 
not help him in his inquiry but might put obstacles 
in his way. 

. After his return from the Commissioner's house 
Mahatmaji asked some prominent delegates to the 
Lucknow Congress to give him a letter to the effect 
that they and some other delegates from Bihar had 
requested him at the Congress to hold an inquiry in 
Champaran. Along with this letter he sent a letter 
of his own, saying that he had come to find the truth 
with regard to the relation between planters and the 
ryots in view of certain statements which had been 
made to him. That was the only object of his visit 
and all that he wanted was peace with honour. 

The news of Mahatmaji's arrival had already 
reached Champaran and a large number of tenants 
came all the way to Muzaffarpur. Mahatmaji listen- 
ed to their story and perused such papers as he could 
get. He had not upto this time formed any idea as 
to the true situation in Champaran and at times it 
seemed that he was not inclined to believe all that he 
was told. He used sometimes to ask, " Is it possible ? 
Can this be true ? " But at the same time his resolve 
to go to Champaran was becoming more and more 

On 14th April, 1917, he decided to start for 
Champaran on the following day (Sunday, the 
15th April, 1917) by the midday train and he asked 
those who were present there to give him some one 
who could act as interpreter, as he could not under- 
stand the dialect of the village people. It was decided 


at the time that arrangements should be made for 
this. In the evening of the same day he visited a 
neighbouring village and saw the condition of the 
people there. He entered the huts of some poor 
men, saw how they were living there and talked to 
little children and women. When he was leaving 
the village he said that India would get Swaraj only 
when the condition of these people would improve. 
The same evening it was decided that Babu Dharani- 
dhar and Babu Rainnavmiprasad, pleaders, would ac- 
company Mahatmaji to Champaran. The conversa- 
tion which Mahatmaji had that night with the people 
there greatly encouraged and inspired them. He 
related to them his South African experiences ; how 
when one man was sent to jail, others used to take his 
place and how when he was also removed his place 
was taken by another and so on. He said, " I wish 
that work should be done in the same way here. I 
know that these people (planters and Government 
officials) would act harshly towards me and a war- 
rant for my arrest may come any moment. I am 
therefore anxious to reach Champaran as quickly as 
possible, so that whatever action they may have to 
take against me, may be taken in the midst of the 
ryots of Champaran. I know that in Bihar I cannot 
get men of this type ; those who will accompany me 
will only act as clerks and interpreters ; as for the 
rest we shall see later/' 

On the 15th April, 1917, Mahatmaji accom- 
panied by Babus Dharanidhar and Ramnavmiprasad 
started by the midday train for Motihari. He was 
from his very start expecting a warrant of arrest. 
With the exception of a few necessary articles he 
had put the rest of his luggage separately in a trunk. 


A large number of gentlemen came to see him off 
at the station. On the way at almost every station 
a large number of tenants had assembled to greet 
him. Mahatmaji reached Motihari at 3 o'clock in 
the afternoon and went straight to the house of Babu 
Gorakhprasad, pleader, where he stopped. The news 
of his arrival spread through the town in no time, 
and a large crowd assembled there. Many Govern- 
ment servants also came to sec him ; but finding the 
Police there these retraced their steps. Mahatmaji 
immediately decided to visit a village, Jasaulipatti, 
on the next day ( 16-4-' 17), from where news of 
oppression on a respectable farmer had been receiv- 
ed ; and the other tenants were informed that their 
statements would be recorded on the following 
Thursday after his return from Jasaulipatti. 

Arrangements were made for taking Mahatmaji 
to Jasaulipatti on the 16th April, and accordingly, 
Mahatmaji and his two interpreters started for 
Jasaulipatti about 9 a.m. on an elephant. It was the 
month of Baishakh ; the sun was hot and there was 
strong westerly wind, and one got almost scorched 
in the open. Mahatmaji was not used to riding an 
elephant ; then there were three men on the elephant 
and to add to all the strong west wind was actually 
causing a shower of dust and sand ; but in the 
Mahatma's heart there was burning a fire to see and 
to redress the miseries of the ryots, compared with 
which the outward heat of the sun and the dust and 
sand were nothing. On the way they were talking 
on various subjects and topics. One of the subjects 
discussed was the ' purda ' system in Bihar. He said : 
"It is not my desire that our women should adopt 
the western mode of living ; but we must realize 


what harm this pernicious system does to their 
health and in how many ways they are deprived of 
the privilege of helping their husbands." By 12 
o'clock noon they had travelled about 9 miles from 
Motihari and reached a village called Chandrahia. 
Mahatmaji desired to see the condition of the village. 
On enquiry it was ascertained that it was one of the 
villages of the Motihari Factory and the majority of 
its residents were labourers, who had all gone to the 
factory for work. They however met a man who 
explained to them the condition of the village and 
boasted that even the Collector of the District dared 
not do anything against the Sahib, the Manager of 
the Factory. It appeared from his talk that he was 
connected with the factory. While this conversation 
was going on, a man in ordinary plain clothes was 
seen coming on a bicycle. He was a Police Sub- 
Inspector. He told Mahatmaji that the Collector 
had sent salaams to him (a police form of asking 
for an interview). Mahatmaji asked him to arrange 
for a conveyance and told his companions, " I was 
expecting that something of this sort would happen. 
You need not mind it. You proceed to Jasaulipatti 
and do the work there. If necessary you may stop 
there for the night also/' The Sub-Inspector brought 
a bullock cart and Mahatmaji started in it for Moti- 
hari, while his two companions proceeded to Jasauli- 

On the way Mahatmaji came across an ekka and 
on the request of the Sub-Inspector, he left the cart 
and took the ekka. When they had gone a short 
distance a police officer was seen coming on a tamtam 
and Mahatmaji was taken from the ekka to the tam- 
tam. The police officer who had come in the tamtam 


was the Deputy Superintendent of Police. When 
they had gone a little further, he stopped the tamtam, 
showed a notice to Mahatmaji, who quietly read 
it and after reaching Motihari, gave him a receipt for 
it. The notice was as follows : 


Mr. M. K. Gandhi 

At present in Motihari. 

Whereas it has been made to appear to me from 
the letter of the Commissioner of the Division, copy 
of which is attached to this order, that your presence 
in any part of the District will endanger the public 
peace and may lead to serious disturbance which may 
be accompanied by loss of life and whereas urgency 
is of the utmost importance ; 

Now therefore I do hereby order you to abstain 
from remaining in the District, which you are re- 
quired to leave by the next available train. 

W. B. Heycock, 

Dist. Magistrate, 
16th April, 1917. Champaran. 

To the notice was annexed a copy of a letter 
from the Commissioner which was as follows : 


The Dist. Magistrate of Champaran. 

Mr. M. K. Gandhi has come here in response to 
what he describes as an insistent public demand to 
inquire into the conditions under which Indians 
work on indigo plantations and desires the help of 
the local administration. He came to see me this 
morning and I explained that the relations between 
the planters and the ryots had engaged the attention 


of the administration since the sixties, and that we 
were particularly concerned with a phase of the pro- 
blem in Champaran now ; but that it was doubtful 
whether the intervention of a stranger in the middle 
of the treatment of our case would not prove an 
embarrassment. I indicated the potentialities of 
disturbance in Champaran, asked for credentials to 
show an insistent public demand for his inquiry and 
said that the matter would probably need reference 
to Government. 

I expected that Mr. Gandhi would communicate 
with me again before he proceeds to Champaran but 
1 have been informed since our interview that his 
object is likely to be agitation rather than a genuine 
search for knowledge and it is possible that he may 
proceed without further reference. I consider that 
there is a danger of disturbance to the public tran- 
quillity should he visit your District. I have the 
honour to request you to direct him by an order 
under section 144 Cr. P. C. to leave it at once if he 
should appear. 

I have the honour etc. 

L. F. Morshead, 
Commissioner of the Tirhut Division. 

Mahatmaji immediately on his arrival at Moti- 
hari sent the following reply to the Magistrate : 


With reference to the order under section 144 
Criminal Procedure Code just served upon me I beg 
to state that I am sorry that you have felt called upon 
to issue it and I am sorry, too, that the Commissioner 
of the Division has totally misinterpreted my position. 
Out of a sense of public responsibility, I feel it to be 


my duty to say that I am unable to leave the District 
but if it so pleases the authorities, I shall submit to 
the order by suffering the penalty of disobedience. 

I must emphatically repudiate the Commis- 
sioner's suggestion that my object is likely to be 
agitation. My desire is purely and simply for a 
genuine search for knowledge. And this I shall con- 
tinue to satisfy so long as I am free. 
16th April, 1917. M. K. Gandhi. 

Mr. H. S. Polak, Pandit Madanmohan Mala- 
viya and other leaders of India as also the writer 
were informed of what had happened by telegrams 
and Mr. C. F. Andrews was wired to come at once. 

Mahatmaji prepared a number of directions for 
the guidance of those who were to carry on the work 
after him. 

Babus Dharanidhar and Ramnavmiprasad on the 
other hand reached Jasaulipatti at about 3pm and 
after recording the statements of some men returned 
to Motihari and learned about the notice under sec- 
tion 144 Criminal Procedure Code. Mahatmaji gave 
them a copy of the directions he had prepared and 
explained to them in detail how the work would have 
to be conducted after his imprisonment. He also told 
them that if they followed him to jail, then his 
mission would be successful in no time. 

The next day (Tuesday 17-4-17) had already 
been fixed for recording the statements of tenants. 
Accordingly many tenants came to Motihari and 
their statements began to be recorded. The Police 
Sub-Inspector also arrived on the scene and began 
to note down the names of the tenants who gave 
statements at first stealthily and after a time openly. 


Such large numbers of tenants had come that gentle- 
men who were recording the statements had not even 
a moment's rest throughout the day. Mahatmaji of 
course knew that he would have to go to jail for dis- 
obeying the order. He consequently did not allow 
the work in any way to suffer, nor was any mention 
made to the tenants of what had happened. On the 
same day it was decided that village Parsauni about 
16 miles to the south of Motihari would be visited 
on the following day and information was sent ac- 
cordingly. Conveyance was also arranged. The 
idea was to start at about 3 a.m. and if there was any 
delay or difficulty in getting the conveyance to go 
walking on foot. 

While the arrangements were being made, tele- 
grams were pouring in from all parts of India. Mr. 
Polak wired from Allahabad that he would reach 
Patna the same evening. Mr. Mazharul Haque wired 
his readiness to start, if required. Mahatmaji's reply 
to Mr. Haque's telegram was that Mr. Haque's pre- 
sence would be required after his imprisonment. The 
writer was informed to come at once with volunteers. 
Pandit Malaviya wired for information and express- 
ed his willingness to come, leaving the Hindu Uni- 
versity work. The reply to him too was that his 
presence was not yet needed. The work of recording 
the statements of tenants went on the whole day. 

When no summons was received upto the even- 
ing about any charge of disobedience of orders, 
Mahatmaji wrote a letter to the District Magistrate 
in which he intimated to him his intention of visiting 
village Parsauni on the next day. He also told the 
Magistrate that he did not intend doing anything 
secretly. It would therefore be better, if a police 


officer accompanied him. Immediately on receipt of 
the letter the Magistrate wrote to him that he would 
be charged with an offence under section 188 I. P. C., 
that a summons would be issued against him and 
that the Magistrate hoped that he (Mahatmaji) would 
not leave Motiliari. Shortly after this letter was 
received, the summons also came calling upon 
Mahatmaji to appear before the Sub-divisional Officer 
on the 18th April, 1917, at 12-30 p.m. After this 
Mahatmaji further discussed the situation with his 
co-workers. It was first considered that they should 
stick to their programme and go to Parsauni. But later 
on it was thought that it was not necessary to do so. 
Mahatmaji asked them " What will you do after 
I am sent to jail ? " The question was a difficult one 
and not easy to answer. Babu Dharanidhar said, " For 
the present I am only prepared for this that when 
you are sent to jail I will continue the work and if 
a notice under section 144 is served on me also, I 
will arrange for a substitute and leave the District. 
In this way the work will be continued at least for 
some time/' Mahatmaji did not appear to be satisfied 
with this answer any more than his co-workers who 
went on considering and discussing this matter 
between themselves for the whole night. After sum- 
mons had been served Mahatmaji felt quite content- 
ed and happy and sat down to write letters. He went 
on working the whole night without any rest at all. 
Mahatmaji in the course of the same night prepared 
a statement to be read before the Court. He also 
wrote letters to the Secretary of Planters' Association 
and the Commissioner in which he recounted in so 
far as he had come to know them, the grievances of 
the tenants and suggested the remedies ; he gave 


instructions that these and some other letters which 
he wrote should be posted only after his imprison- 

The writer after receiving the telegram at Patna 
saw the principal publicists there and explained to 
them the situation that had arisen in Champaran. He 
also sent a telegram to Babu Brajakishore informing 
him of the proceedings under section 144. A tele- 
gram was received at Patna from Mr. Polak, that he 
would reach Patna the same evening by the Punjab 
Mail. In the evening a sort of small conference was 
held at Patna in which it was decided that Mr. Polak, 
the writer and such other persons as could be found, 
should start the next day (18-4-17) by the morning 
train for Motihari. It was expected that Babu Braja- 
kishore would also arrive by the same morning train. 

The 18th of April, 1917, is a memorable day in 
the history not only of Champaran, but of the whole 
of India. It was on this day that Mahatma Gandhi 
was preparing himself to go to jail for the sake of 
the poor and suffering people of the province of 
Bihar. On this day the whole of India was to get 
her first lesson and her first modern example of 
Satyagraha which was to open new flood gates of 
light and of vision before her. It is an old saying 
that no harm can come to the true, but a practical 
demonstration of this was to be given to the world on 
this day by Mahatma Gandhi. Ready and determin- 
ed to remove the grievances of the tenants, and 
equally determined to do no injury to those who had 
been oppressing them, it was, as it were, the great 
soul of Mahatma Gandhi was born in human shape to 
reconcile these apparently irreconcilable elements. 
Could any obstacles bar the path of such a man ? 


The eyes of all India from one end to the other 
were turned towards Champaran. Time passed, as 
if almost unnoticed, and it was about 12 noon. 
Mahatmaji separated those of his things which he 
wanted to take with himself to jail from those which 
he wanted to leave behind, and kept the latter in a 
separate place. The work of recording statements 
was also stopped today and the tenants were told 
that this work would commence again on the follow- 
ing day. At quarter past 12 Mahatmaji accompanied 
by his two interpreters started in a carriage for the 
Court. On the way Babu Dharanidhar told Mahatmaji 
that he and Babu Ramnavmi had decided to follow 
him to jail, even though others might not. Mahatmaji 
felt very much pleased and said with joy " Now I 
know we shall succeed." 

Although no information had been given to the 
tenants about the proceedings under section 144 and 
subsequent prosecution, yet the news had somehow 
reached not only every corner of the town but even 
distant villages and several thousand tenants had 
assembled in the Court compound and were waiting 
for Mahatmaji from 10 o'clock. Their own desire 
was to have a look at the man who was going to jail 
in order to relieve their distress. When Mahatmaji 
entered the Court room, he was followed by about 
2,000 men who, in their anxiety to get in, br.oke the 
glass-panes of the doors. The Magistrate seeing the 
great crowd asked Mahatmaji to wait for a little while 
in the Mokhtiars' library. Mahatmaji went to the 
library while the Magistrate sent for armed police to 
prevent the people from entering the Court-room and 
to prevent any disturbance in his work. Mahatmaji 


was surrounded in the library by a large crowd 
of people, the eyes of all of whom were fixed on him, 
while tears were streaming down the cheeks of many 
of them. Shortly afterwards Mahatmaji was sent for 
and went to the Magistrate's Court-room. There the 
Government pleader was ready with his books of law 
and precedent. He had perhaps thought that he was 
going to prosecute a great man like Mahatma Gandhi 
who had himself been a famous lawyer and he ex- 
pected that there would be a very long and learned 
argument. He had possibly not slept the previous 
night, looking up precedents and law reports. When 
Mahatmaji arrived, the Magistrate asked him, " Have 
you got any pleader ? " and the short reply was 
" No, none." Some people were surprised, but still 
they thought that having been a great advocate he 
would himself argue his case. The Government 
pleader opened the case and stated that under orders 
issued under section 144 Mr. Gandhi ought to have 
left Champ^ran on the night of the 16th April, but 
that he had not yet done so and he was consequently 
charged with an offence under section 188 I. P. C. 
Mahatmaji said that on receipt of the order he had 
sent a reply to the Magistrate in which he had stated 
his reasons for disobeying the order and he wished 
that the letter should be placed on the record. The 
Magistrate said that the letter was not there and if 
Mahatma Gandhi thought it necessary, he might 
apply for it. Thereafter Mahatma Gandhi read out 
his statement jp. a firm, calm and determined voice. 
While he was reading it there was pin-drop silence 
in spite of the large crowd that was present there, 
and all eyes were fixed on him, and as he proceeded 
wonder and unspeakable love became depicted on 


the faces of the audience. The statement was as 

follows : 

"With the permission of the Court I would 
like to make a brief statement showing why I have 
taken a very serious step of seemingly disobeying 
the order made under section 144 of Cr. P. C. In 
my humble opinion it is a question of difference of 
opinion between the local administration and my- 
self. I have entered the country with motives of 
rendering humanitarian and national service. I 
have done so in response to a pressing invitation 
to come and help the ryots, who urge they are 
not being fairly treated by the indigo planters. I 
could not render any help without studying the 
problem. I have, therefore, come to study it with 
the assistance, if possible, of the administration 
and the planters. I have no other motive and can- 
not believe that my coming can in any way disturb 
public peace and cause loss of life. I claim to have 
considerable experience in such matters. The ad- 
ministration, however, have thought differently. I 
fully appreciate their difficulty and I admit, too, 
that they can only proceed upon information they 
receive. As a law-abiding citizen my first instinct 
would be, as it was, to obey the order served upon 
me. But I could not do so without doing violence 
to my sense of duty to those for whom I came. I 
feel that I could just now serve them only by re- 
maining in their midst. I could not therefore 
voluntarily retire. Amidst this conflict of duty I 
could only throw the responsibility of removing 
me from them on the administration. I am fully 
conscious of the fact that a person, holding in the 
public life of India a position such as I do, has to 


be most careful in setting examples. It is my firm 
belief that in the complex constitution under which 
we are living the only safe and honourable course 
for a self-respecting man is, in the circumstances 
such as face me, to do what I have decided to do, 
that is, to 'submit without protest to the penalty of 

" I venture to make this statement not in any 
way in extenuation of the penalty to be awarded 
against me, but to show that I have disregarded the 
order served upon me not for want of respect for 
lawful authority, but in obedience to the higher 
law of our being, the voice of conscience." 

Till now the Government pleader had been ex- 
pecting that Mahatmaji would offer defence. It may 
be stated here that order under section 144 was 
wholly illegal. It is the opinion of many lawyers of 
note, that if the case had been argued and even if the 
Magistrate had convicted Mahatmaji, he would surely 
have been acquitted by the High Court. The Gov- 
ernment pleader had anticipated this difficulty and 
had brought books to meet it as best as he might. 
The Magistrate could not make up his mind what to 
do next. He repeatedly asked Mahatmaji, if 
he pleaded guilty. Mahatmaji's reply was " I 
have said whatever I have to say in my state- 
ment." The Magistrate said that that did not con- 
tain a clear plea of guilty. Mahatmaji thereupon, 
said, " I do not wish to waste the time of the Court 
and I plead guilty/* This put out the Magistrate still 
further. He told Mahatmaji, " If you leave the Dis- 
trict now and promise not to return, the case against 
you would be withdrawn." Mahatmaji replied, " That 
cannot be. Not to speak of this time alone, I shall 


make Champaran my home even after my return 
from jail" 

The Magistrate was dumb-founded and could 
only say that the matter required consideration and 
that he would pass orders later at 3 o'clock. The 
whole of this memorable trial was over in about half 
an hour's time and Mahatmaji was about to return 
to his lodgings when the Deputy Superintendent of 
Police came and told him that the Superintendent of 
Police wanted to see him. Mahatmaji accompanied 
him to the Superintendent. This latter gentleman 
had at one time been in South Africa and talked 
freely to Mahatmaji, claiming an old acquaintance. 
He spoke a great deal against Rajkumar Shukla 
and promised to bring about a meeting between 
Mahatmaji and planters. Thereafter Mahatmaji saw 
the District Magistrate Mr. W. B. Heycock, who ex- 
pressed regret at the necessity he felt himself under 
to take proceedings against him and said that 
Mahatmaji ought to have seen him earlier. Mahat- 
maji replied that after the treatment he had received 
from the Commissioner it was neither possible 
nor proper for him to see the Magistrate to court 
a rebuff. The Magistrate requested Mahatmaji to post- 
pone his visits to villages for three days to which 
Mahatmaji consented. 

Mahatmaji appeared before the Magistrate short- 
ly before 3 o'clock. The Magistrate told him that 
he would pass orders on 21st April, 1917, but that he 
would release him in the meantime on a bail of 
Rs. 100. Mahatmaji said that he had no bailor and 
could not offer bail. The Magistrate was again in 
difficulty and found a way out by offering to release 


him on his personal recognizance. Mahatmaji re- 
turned to his lodgings at about three o'clock. From 
there he sent information about what had happened 
to friends and newspapers, at the same time request- 
ing them not to create any agitation in the Press 
until the Government orders were known. 

On the 18th April, a party consisting of Messrs. 
Polak, Haque, Brajakishore, Anugrahanarayan, Sham- 
bhusharan and the writer left Patna by the 7 
a.m. train for Motihari. On the way Mr. Polak 
recounted several stories of Mahatmaji's doings in 
South Africa and we reached Motihari at 3 p.m. On 
arriving there we learnt what had happened in Court 
in the course of the day and it seemed that matters 
would not probably proceed further and the case 
would most likely be withdrawn. It was at the same 
time felt that if, however, the case was not withdrawn 
and Mahatmaji was in any way touched then the 
work would have to be continued. The new-comers 
were apprised of what had happened till then and 
the whole party met at 7-30 p.m. to consider the 
future plan of action. Here too the same question 
arose as to what would happen after Mahatmaji's 
imprisonment. There was no doubt that the work 
must be continued ; but if in continuing it, it was 
necessary to face imprisonments, should we be able 
to do so ? The new-comers felt very much encouraged 
when they heard of the determination of Babu Dhar- 
nidhar and Babu Ramnavmi and they all said in one 
voice that they also would not lag behind. When we 
were discussing this matter amongst ourselves Mahat- 
maji was not there. When we had decided this we 
communicated our decision to him. Mahatmaji was 
filled with joy and Mr. Polak also was very much 


pleased. Mahatmaji, like the practical man that he 
is, asked us to make a definite programme. It was 
accordingly decided that if Mahatmaji went to jail, 
Mr. Haque and Babu Brajakishoreprasad would take 
the lead and intimation of this would be sent to the 
Government officers. If they were removed, then Babu 
Dl^arnidhar and Babu Ramnavmi would take charge 
of the work. If they too were picked up, the writer, 
Babu Shambhusharan, and Babu Anugrahanarayan, 
would continue the work. It was hoped that by the 
time these batches were removed, other people would 
have joined the party and further programme would 
be fixed later on. In accordance with this decision 
Mr. Haque and Batyu Brajakishore were permitted to 
go to Patna and Darbhanga respectively to settle their 
affairs at home, so that they might return by the 21st 
April which was the date fixed by the Magistrate for 
passing orders. Mr. Haque had a professional en- 
gagement at Gorakhpur and it was arranged that 
he would return straight from Gorakhpur either on 
the evening of the 21st or on the morning of the 
22nd. Mr. Haque who was then a member of the 
Viceroy's Legislative Council sent a long telegram to 
the Viceroy, detailing the happenings in Champaran. 
After arranging all this Mr. Polak, Mr. Haque and 
Babu Brajakishore left Motihari by the night train. 
From 19-4-'17 batches after batches of tenants 
began to pour in and Mahatma Gandhi's assistants 
began to record their statements. Mahatmaji him- 
self recorded the statements of a few of these and 
read the statements recorded by others. Those who 
were entrusted with the work of recording statements 
were told to cross-examine the tenants carefully and 
closely, to record only such statements as appeared 


to them to be true, and if they came across any case 
which required immediate enquiry to draw Mahatma 
Gandhi's attention to it. While we were recording 
statements the Police Sub-Inspector used to be pre- 
sent taking notes of what was going on. On this 
day, too, telegrams were received from various parts 
of the country and information was sent to friends 
of what was happening. Mr. C. P. Andrews arrived 
that afternoon. He had never been to Champaran 
before, and the people of Champaran too had never 
seen an Englishman like Mr. Andrews. His simple 
dress, plain and straight talk and above all his face 
beaming with love endeared him to all who came 
near him. Mahatmaji related to him all that had 
happened. Mr. Andrews went to see the Collector, 
but could not meet him. 

We had all been staying upto this time at the 
house of Babu Gorakhprasad ; but our number was 
growing and we saw that the work was likely to take 
time. It was accordingly decided that we should take 
a house on rent. Babu Ramadayalprasad, who is an 
enthusiastic young man of the famous Sahu family 
of the place, secured a house for us. It was decided 
that we should shift to that house and Mahatmaji 
ordered that we should remove that very evening. 
We accordingly went to the new house the same night. 
It is necessary to state here that all the time that 
Mahatmaji and his assistants remained in Champa- 
ran the Sahu family gave them every kind of as- 

On Mr. Polak returning to Patna, a meeting of 
the Bihar Provincial Association was held under the 
presidency of the Hon'ble Rai Krishnasahai Baha- 
dur. Mr. Polak explained the situation in Champaran 


and requested the leaders to go to Champaran. 
The Association resolved to give all possible assist- 
ance to Mahatmaji in his inquiry. 

On the 20th April, 1917, Mr. Andrews saw the 
Collector, Mr. Heycock. There he learnt that the 
case against Mahatmaji would be withdrawn and the 
Goyernment officers would help him in the enquiry. 
We were not aware of this decision of the Govern- 
ment and it had accordingly been decided on the 19th 
to request Bihar leaders to visit Champaran, and 
telegrams had been sent to Mr. Hasan Imam, Mr. S. 
Sinha and the Hon'ble Babu Krishnasahai, Babu 
Brajakishoreprasad returned the same day from 
Darbhanga. The statements of the tenants conti- 
nued to be recorded the whole day. There was such 
a continuous stream of these tenants that there was 
not a minute's break between 6-30 a.m. and 6-30 p.m. 
Many had to stay overnight and still their statements 
could not be recorded the next day. We accordingly 
arranged to take down the names of all those who 
were left over for the next day for want of time and 
they were given priority the following day. Work 
continued like this. 

At about 7 p.m. notice was received that the case 
had been withdrawn. 

On 21-4-'17 statements continued to be recorded. 
There was a great crowd of tenants. They were 
under the impression that orders in the Mahatma's 
case would be passed that day and they had come 
from long distances. From Bettiah alone some 500 
persons had come. When they received the news of 
the withdrawal of the case, they were naturally very 
pleased. They also came to get their statements re- 
corded. Two Sub-Inspectors of Police who had been 


kept to watch us and our proceedings were removed 
from that duty this day. The same afternoon Mr. 
S. Sinha and Rai Bahadur Krishnasahai arrived 
from Patna and had a long conversation with Mahat- 
maji. Mr. Hassan Imam could not come himself, 
but he sent monetary assistance. Mdhatmaji decided 
to go to Bettiah on the 24th. 

Mr. Andrews had previously settled to go to Fiji. 
Mahatmaji was of opinion that he should not change 
his programme. We were of opinion that the trouble 
with the planters was not yet quite over and the 
presence of a gentleman like Mr. Andrews would be 
a great help. We spoke to Mr. Andrews and he said 
that he would abide by Mahatmaji's decision. In 
the evening the matter was mentioned to Mahatmaji 
and it was suggested that Mr. Andrews should be 
detained. The reply that Mahatmaji gave us had a 
great effect on our mental outlook. He said he knew 
the reason why we wanted to detain Mr. Andrews 
and that reason was that this fight being against the 
white planters the presence of a white man like Mr. 
Andrews would give us some protection ; but that 
he (Mahatmaji) was not prepared to seek or give 
any protection of that sort. It was a weakness on 
our part to seek it and it was necessary for that very 
reason, that Mr. Andrews should go. But if Mr. 
Andrews felt the call for Champaran as more urgent 
than that for Fiji he might stay ; but this he must 
decide himself. It was ultimately settled that Mr. 
Andrews should go to Fiji and that he must start by 
the next morning train. 

On this and the following days a number of 
pleaders arrived from Muzaflarpur and Chapra to 
help in recording statements. As usual there was a 


large crowd of tenants. Mr. Andrews started by the 
10 a.m. train and Mr. Haque returned from Gorakh- 
pur by the same train. While we were recording 
statements information was received from a Village 
that a man had been shut up by the underlings of a 
factory in one 6f its godowns. Mahatmaji deputed 
Babu Anugrahanarayan to proceed to the place at 
once and wrote to the Superintendent of Police asking 
for his assistance. Babu Anugrahanarayan reached the 
place, but the factory people having received infor- 
mation of his arrival let off the man and asked him 
to go out by a back-door. Anugrahababu chanced 
to meet the man and brought him to Motihari. 

The same afternoon Mahatmaji accompanied by 
some of the workers went to Bettiah leaving behind 
others at Motihari to record statements of tenants 
who came there. 

When the news of the proceedings under section 
144 Cr. P. C. and the prosecution of Mahatma Gandhi 
and its withdrawal was published almost all the 
papers of India severely criticized the action of the 
Commissioner and praised the Government for order- 
ing withdrawal of the case and directing its local 
officers to help Mahatmaji. 



It has been said above that Mahatma Gandhi went 
to Bettiah by the afternoon train of the 22nd April. 
The news of the withdrawal of the case, as also that 
Mahatmaji was going to Bettiah by that train had 
already spread. There were crowds of people await- 
ing at every railway station to have a look ( darshan ) 
at him ; and the arrival of the train was signalized 
by shouts of Jai and showering of flowers. The train 
reached Bettiah at about 5 p.m. There was such a 
huge crowd at the station that to avoid any acci- 
dent the train had to be stopped some way off from 
the platform. The Mahatma was travelling in a 
3rd class compartment. The people of the town and 
villages welcomed him. They rent the skies with 
their cries of Jai and there was a regular hail-storm 
of flowers. 

Mahatmaji took his seat in a carriage. The peo- 
ple unharnessed the horses and wanted to pull the 
carriage themselves. But Mahatmaji prohibited them 
and expressed his determination to leave the carriage 
if they persisted. The people yielded and the horses 
were again harnessed. More than 10,000 people were 
present there. The carriage could move but slowly and 
with great difficulty. On both sides of the road count- 
less men and women were standing. It was the long- 
looked-for day of Mahatma Gandhi's arrival and he 
had arrived. No one felt any doubt that the miseries 
of the tenants would now disappear. This faith was 
deeply engraven on their simple faces. No one had 



said anything to the people about Mahatmaji. Very 
few people knew his past career. There were fewer 
still who were acquainted with his South African 
Satyagraha. What was it that created this confidence ? 
It was apparently without any reason. What was 
at the root of this firm and unquestioning faith ? I 
cannot answer this question. The faith was firm, 
the heart was true. These bore their fruit. Mahat- 
maji drove from the station to the dharamshala 
of Babu Hazarimal. There he was received by Babu 
Surajmal, who made all arrangements for Mahat- 
maji's stay there. Mahatmaji stayed at the dharam- 
shala all the time he remained in Bettiah and the 
proprietors were ever ready to serve. 

On the following day Mahatmaji saw Mr. W. H. 
Lewis, the Sub-divisional Magistrate of Bettiah and 
Mr. J. T. Whitty, the Manager of the Bettiah Raj. 
They had already received communications from the 
Collector about Mahatmaji. 

At Bettiah also statements began to be recorded. 
There used to be large crowds here also. On the 
24th April Mahatmaji and Babu Brajakishore went to 
a village called Laukaria. The people related to them 
their grievances. Mahatmaji talked to small boys, 
inquired about the wages paid to them by factories 
and by other agriculturists, and made rather sifting 
enquiries about wages. Mr. Lewis also visited the 
place where statements were being recorded and 
stopped there for a short time. In spite of his pre- 
sence the tenants fearlessly mentioned their grievan- 
ces. Babu Brajakishoreprasad was recording their 
statements after subjecting them to a searching cross- 
examination. It is believed that Mr. Lewis came 
back satisfied with the method and procedure of the 


inquiry. Mahatmaji spent the night there. He also 
visited Mr. H. Gale, the Manager of the Byreah fac- 
tory, and had a long talk with him about his factory 
and his villages. While Mahatmaji was returning 
from the factory, an incident occurred which deserves 
mention here. He had gone a short distance when 
a factory servant came running to him and told him, 
" I was apprehending that the factory manager might 
behave rudely towards you ; I was therefore over- 
hearing the whole conversation from a concealed 
corner, ready to come to your assistance., come what 
might to me, in case anything untoward happened 
to you." The way he spoke showed that he was 
speaking the truth and this incident only proves that 
even those who were not in a position to support and 
help Mahatmaji openly were secretly praying for his 
success, and further were even ready to come to his 
assistance, if any occasion demanded it. 

On the evening of the 25th April, Mahatmaji 
came back all the way walking from Laukaria to 
Bettiah which caused a swelling in one of his feet. 

The work of recording statements was going on 
at Motihari ; but since Mahatmaji's arrival at Bettiah 
the crowd there became larger and more assistants 
had to be called there. The statements which were 
recorded at Motihari used to be sent every night to 
Mahatmaji through a messenger. 

On the 26th of April Mahatmaji went to see a 
village, Sindhachhapra under the Kuria factory. This 
village is at a short distance from Bettiah. There 
were also some policemen with him. He went round 
the village and saw the condition there. What he 
saw there melted his heart. He found indigo grown 
all round the houses of the tenants. 


On the 27th April, Mahatmaji accompanied by 
Babu Brajakishoreprasad and others went to see some 
villages under the Belwa factory. On the way Babu 
Yindhyabasiniprasad, a vakil from Gorakhpur, joined 
the party to , assist Mahatmaji. Early in the 
morning Mahatmaji and the party started on foot 
from the Narkatiaganj Railway Station for Murali 
Bharahwa which is at a distance of 6 or 7 miles from 
there. In spite of the. hot sun of the month of Baisakh 
they all managed to reach Murali Bharahwa on foot 
at about 10 o'clock. Pandit Rajkumar Shukla, who 
had been sent to the Lucknow Congress as their re- 
presentative by the tenants of Champaran and who 
had accompanied Mahatmaji from Calcutta, is a resi- 
dent of this village. He showed his house to 
Mahatmaji, which, he said, had been looted by the 
factory people only a month before. The framework 
of the house was standing in a disturbed condition. 
The earthen kothis in which grain is kept were lying 
upset and trunks of the plantain trees were lying 
here and there scattered on the ground. On his fields, 
which, he said, were grazed by cattle under orders 
of the factory, were still standing the stalks and stems 
of the crop which had been so destroyed. * Mahatmaji 
saw all this and was very much touched. A large 
number of persons were examined there and hun- 
dreds of people made statements about the loot. Some 
of them were people whose cattle were let loose to 
graze in the field. Mahatmaji went and saw Mr. 
A. C. Ammon, the Manager of the Belwa factory. At 

* Rajkumar Shukla stated the fact of his house being 
looted before the Agrarian Committee. But it was denied by 
Mr. A. C. Ammon, the Manager of the Belwa factory. 


night the party stayed in the village of Belwa and 
the next morning they all returned to Bettiah. 

After his return from Belwa he again went and 
saw Mr. Lewis and Mr. Whitty and had a long talk 
with them. The planters and the local officers were 
very much upset by Mahatmaji's visit. Mr. Lewis 
was very apprehensive and had drawn before his 
imagination a terrible picture of a likely disturbance 
and had begun to imagine that no one would care 
for any Government officials any more. Prom the 
talk that he had with Mahatmaji the latter gathered 
that he would send a report about all this to the 

At about 4-30 the same afternoon we all began 
to discuss what we should do if the Government took 
steps again against the party. We could not be 
punished for any offence without a regular trial. The 
expedient of sec. 144 Cr. P. C. would now fall flat 
on us and the people alike ; but still there was the 
Defence of India Act under which we could all be 
externed from Champaran. We thought that if the 
Government decided upon this course, all of us 
would be got out of the way at one stroke. We had 
by this time recorded statements of thousands of 
tenants and had become acquainted with almost all 
the grievances of Champaran. There was hardly any 
locality in the whole District from which some 
tenants had not come to us and given their state- 
ments. There was no factory in the whole District 
with whose doings and activities we had not become 
familiar. If we were all removed together, it was 
just possible that the statements which we had re- 
corded and the documentary evidence that we had 


collected might be lost or might become useless. We 
knew that if we were removed, another batch of 
workers would come and take our places but the 
fresh batch would have to collect the same evidence 
anew and it was just possible that it might not get 
the documents 'with the ease and quickness with 
which we had got them. Then again the new batch 
would be wholly unacquainted with Champaran and 
its conditions. Mahatmaji discussed all this with us 
for a pretty long time. It was suggested by some of 
us that several copies should be made of the docu- 
ments and the statements and complete sets of such 
copies should be kept in various places so that the 
new batch might get hold of at least one such set and 
even if the Government forfeited the copy in their 
possession, some copy might still be available some- 
where. After considering all this Mahatmaji said 
that the Government might deal with us as it liked, 
but it would be an act of supreme folly on its part 
to forfeit or to destroy the evidence we had collected, 
and it would never do any such thing, because if the 
Government destroyed that evidence then any state- 
ment that we who had collected the evidence might 
make would have to be accepted, and Government 
would expose itself to attack on all sides without 
gaining anything. But as a precautionary measure 
it was desirable to have more than one copy of all 
our papers.* We went on discussing all this till late 
at night. The same evening after 8 p.m. Mr. Lewis 
sent a report which he was submitting to the Gov- 
ernment to Mahatmaji for his perusal asking him at 
the same time to send any note of his own regarding 
the subject matter of the report. Mahatmaji returned 
the report with his note the same night. 


On 30th April, 1917, Mahatmaji went to Sathi 
factory and met its Manager Mr. C. Still. There he 
also met Mr. Gordon Canning the Manager of the 
Parsa Factory. He had a long conversation with 
them. After hearing the statements of some tenants 
Mahatmaji returned to Bettiah by the evening train. 

On the 1st of May, Mahatmaji went to Motihari, 
accompanied by Babu Brajakishore. On the second 
May there 'was a meeting of planters. Many of the 
planters attended it. 'They invited Mahatmaji also. 
There was a long talk on various matters ; but no- 
thing came out of it. On the 3rd May Mahatmaji 
after seeing Mr. Heycock, the District Magistrate and 
Mr. Sweeney, the Settlement Officer, returned to Bet- 

The Bihar Government was not out of touch 
with the progress of events in Champaran. The local 
officers were sending no doubt highly coloured re- 
ports. The planters also sent their representatives 
on deputation to lay their complaints before the Gov- 
ernment. The European Defence Association of 
Muzaffarpur induced its parent Association in Cal- 
cutta to make a representation to the Government of 
India in which they asked that Mahatma Gandhi's 
enquiry should be stopped. But if the Government 
did not want to do that it should appoint a Commis- 
sion of its own. It seems that when the planters did 
not feel satisfied with the result of the conversation 
that they had with Mahatmaji on the 2nd May, they 
began to take these steps. Mahatmaji used to in- 
form the planters and the Government officials of all 
that he was doing. On the other hand the planters 
were doing all this secretly and no news of it was 
allowed to reach him. As a result of this deputation, 


a telegram was received by Mahatmaji from the Chief 
Secretary to the Government from Ranchi on 6th 
May, 1917, informing him that the Hon'ble Mr. W 
Maude would be going to Patna on the 10th May 
and requesting Mahatmaji to meet him there. We 
thought that the Government was going to take some 
action ; but we did not expect that it would stop the 
enquiry. The rush of tenants went on increasing. 
Volunteers from various districts of Bihar had come 
to assist in the work and it was going on smoothly. 
At intervals the leaders of Bihar also used to come. 
On the 5th May Babu Parameshwarlal, Bar-at-Law, 
came to Bettiah from Patna and stayed there for 
several days. 


On the morning of the 9th May, 1917 Mahatmaji 
accompanied by Babu Brajakishore started for Patna 
to have an interview with Mr. Maude. The news that 
Mahatmaji would travel by that train had spread and 
at every station there was a crowd of people waiting 
to see him raising the usual cry of Jai and showering 
flowers on him. Mahatmaji reached Patna at 7 o'clock 
in the evening. It was raining hard at the time. But 
in spite of the rain there was a large crowd waiting 
at the station. Almost all the leaders of Patna and 
several thousands of people had come to welcome 
him. Mahatmaji stopped at the house of Mr. Maz- 

On the 10th May, Mahatmaji had an interview 
with Mr. Maude for about two hours. On the pre- 


vious day Mr. Maude had already met Mr. Heycock, 
the District Magistrate of Champaran, Mr. Whitty, 
the Manager of Bettiah Raj and Mr. Lewis, the Sub- 
divisional Magistrate of Bettiah. We do not know 
what talk took place between Mahatmaji and Mr. 
Maude. But it seems that the planters had poisoned 
the ears of the Government and made serious charges 
against Mahatmaji's assistants. They had urged 
before the Government that the pleaders who were 
working with Mahatmaji were the root of all mischief 
and they should be removed from Champaran with- 
out delay. The reader must remember that Babu 
Brajakishore's name was not unknown to them on 
account of his activities in the Bihar Council in 
favour of the tenants. When Mahatmaji met Mr. 
Maude, after talking about other matters, Mr. Maude 
insisted that Mahatmaji should remove his pleader 
assistants from Champaran. Mahatmaji assured Mr. 
Maude that those who were associated with him were 
not in any way against the Government or likely to 
cause any disturbance and he altogether refused to 
comply with this desire of the Government. It was 
however agreed that Mahatmaji would submit a re- 
port of his enquiry as soon as possible and that 
method of enquiry should now change, but that it 
should not be stopped. 

On ll-5-'17 Mahatmaji returned to Bettiah and 
began to prepare his report as desired by Mr. Maude. 
On 12-5-17 a report comprising the main heads of 
grievances of the tenants was prepared on the basis 
of the evidence recorded. It is necessary to quote 
that report verbatim so that the readers might judge 
for themselves how each one of these complaints was 
proved to be true before the Agrarian Committee. 


Copies of this report were also sent to the Govern- 
ment officers in the District, the Manager of the Bet- 
tiah Raj and Secretary of the Planters' Association. 
The report was as follows : 

" In accordance with the suggestion made by 
Hon'ble Mr. Maude, I beg to submit herewith the 
preliminary conclusions which I have arrived at as 
a result of the enquiry being made by me into the 
agrarian conditions of the ryots of Champaran. 

" At the outset I would like to state that it 
was not possible for me to give the assurance which 
Mr. Maude would have liked me to have given, viz., 
that the vakil friends who have been assisting me 
would be withdrawn. I must confess that this re- 
quest has hurt me deeply. It has been made ever 
since my arrival here. I have been told, i.e., after 
the withdrawal of the order of removal from the 
District, that my presence was harmless enough 
and that my bona fides were unquestioned, but that 
the presence of the vakil friends was likely to 
create " a dangerous situation ". I venture to sub- 
mit that if I may be trusted to conduct myself 
decorously I may be equally trusted to choose help- 
ers of the same type as myself. I consider it a 
privilege to have the association in the difficult task 
before me of these able, earnest and honourable 
men. It seems to me that for me to abandon them 
is to abandon my work. It must be a point of 
honour with me not to dispense with their help 
until anything unworthy is proved against them 
to my satisfaction. I do not share the fear that 
either my presence or that of any friends can 
create a "dangerous situation 7 '. The danger, if 
any, must be in the causes that have brought about 


the strained relation between the planters and the 
ryots. And if the causes were removed, there never 
need be any fear of a " dangerous situation " aris- 
ing in Champaran so far as the ryots are concerned. 
" Coming to the immediate purpose of this 
representation I beg to state that nearly 4,000 ryots 
have been examined and their statements taken 
after careful cross-examination. Several villages 
have been visited and many judgments of courts 
studied. And the enquiry is in my opinion capable 
of sustaining the following conclusions. 

" Factories or concerns in the District of 
Champaran may be divided into two classes : 

" (1) Those that have never had indigo plan- 
tation and (2) Those that have. 

" (1) The concerns that have never grown 
indigo have exacted abwabs known by various 
local names equal in amount at least to the rent 
paid by the ryots. This exaction, although it has 
been held to be illegal, has not altogether stopped. 

" (2) The indigo growing factories have grown 
indigo either under the tinkathia system or khuski. 
The former has been most prevalent and has caused 
the greatest hardship. The type has varied with 
the progress of time. Starting with indigo it has 
taken in its sweep all kinds of crops. It may now 
be defined as an obligation presumed to attach to 
the ryot's holding whereby the ryot has to grow 
a crop on 3/20th of the holding at the will of the 
landlord for a stated consideration. There appears 
to be no legal warrant for it. The ryots have always 
fought against it and have only yielded to force. 
They have not received adequate consideration for 


the services. When, however, owing to the intro- 
duction of synthetic indigo the price of the local 
product fell, the planters desired to cancel the 
indigo sa$as. They, therefore, devised a means of 
saddling the Josses upon the ryots. In lease-hold 
lands they made the ryots pay tawan i.e. dama- 
ges to the extent of Rs. 100 per bigha in considera- 
tion of their waiving their right to indigo 
cultivation. This, the ryots claim, was done under 
coercion. Where the ryots could not find cash, 
handn^tes and mortgage deeds were made for pay- 
ment in instalments bearing interest at 12 per cent 
per annum. In these the balance due has not been 
described as tawan, i. e. damage, but it has been 
fictitiously treated as an advance to the ryot for 
some purpose of his own. 

"In mokarrari land the damages have taken the 
shape of sharahbeshi sattas, meaning enhancement 
of rent in lieu of indigo cultivation. The enhance- 
ment according to the survey report has in the case 
of 5,955 tenancies amounted to Rs. 31,062, the pre- 
enhancement figure being Rs. 53,865. The total 
number of tenancies affected is much larger. The 
ryots claim that these sattas were taken from them 
under coercion. It is inconceivable that the ryots 
would agree to an enormous perpetual increase in 
their Itents against freedom from liability to grow 
indigo for a temporary period, which freedom they 
were strenuously fighting to secure and hourly ex- 

" Where tawan has not been exacted the fac- 
tories have forced the ryots to grow oats, sugarcane 
or such other crop under the tinkathia system. 
Under the tinkathia system the ryot has been 


obliged to give his best land for the landlord's 
crops ; in some cases the land in front of his house 
has been so used ; he has been obliged to give his 
best time and energy also to it so thaj very little 
time has been left to him for growiijg his own crops 
his means of livelihood. 

" Cart-hire sattas have been forcibly taken from 
the ryots for supplying carts to the factories on 
hire insufficient even to cover the usual outlay. In- 
adequate wages have been paid to the ryots where 
labour has been impressed and even boys l&f tender 
age have been made to work against their will. 

" Ploughs of the ryots have been impressed and 
detained by the factories for days together for 
ploughing factory lands for a trifling consideration 
and at a time, when they have required them for 
cultivating their own lands. 

"Dasturi has been taken by the notoriously 
ill-paid factory amlas out of the wages received by 
the labourers often amounting to the fifth of their 
daily wages and also out of the hire paid for the 
carts and in some villages the Chamars have been 
forced to give up to the factories the hides of the 
dead cattle belonging to the ryots. Against the 
carcasses the Chamars used to supply the ryots 
with shoes and leather strap for ploughs, and their 
women had to render services to the^ latter's 
families at childbirth. Now they have ceased to 
render these valuable services. Some factories 
have for the collection of such hides opened hide- 

" Illegal fines, often of heavy amounts have 
been imposed by factories upon ryots who have 
proved unbending. 


" Among the other (according to the evidence 
before me) methods adopted to bend the ryots to 
their will the planters have impounded the ryot's 
cattle, posted peons on their houses, withdrawn 
from them barkers', dhobis ', carpenters' and smiths' 
services,, have prevented the use of village wells 
and pasture lands by ploughing up the pathway 
and the lands just in front of or behind their home- 
steads, have brought or promoted civil suits or 
criminal complaints against them and resorted to 
actual physical force and wrongful confinements. 
The planters have successfully used the institu- 
tions of the country to enforce their will against 
the ryots and have not hesitated to supplement 
them by taking the law in their own hands. The 
result has been that the ryots have shown an 
abject helplessness, such as I have not witnessed 
in any part of India where I have travelled. 

" They are members of District Board and As- 
sessors under the Chaukidari Act and keepers of 
pounds. Their position as such has been felt by 
the ryots. The roads which the latter pay for at 
the rate of half an anna per rupee of rent paid by 
them are hardly available to them. Their carts and 
bullocks which perhaps most need the roads are 
rarely allowed to make use of them. That this is 
not peculiar to Champaran does not in any way 
mitigate the grievance. I am aware that there are 
concerns which form exceptions to the rule laid 
down but as a general charge the statements 
made above are capable of proof. 

" I am aware, too, that there are some Indian 
Zamindars who are open to the charges made 
above. Relief is sought for in their cases as in 


those of the planters. Whilst there can be no 
doubt that the latter have inherited a vicious sys- 
tem, they with their trained minds and superior 
position have rendered it to an exact science, so 
that the ryots would not only have been unable to 
raise their heads above water but would have sunk 
deeper still had not the Government granted some 
protection. But that protection has been meagre 
and provokingly slow and has often come too late 
to be appreciated by the ryots. 

" It is true that the Government await the Set- 
tlement Officer's report on some of these matters 
covered by this representation. It is submitted that 
when the ryots are groaning under the weight of 
oppression such as I have described above, an en- 
quiry by the Settlement Officer is a cumbersome 
method. With him the grievances mentioned here- 
in are but an item in an extensive settlement ope- 
ration. Nor does his enquiry cover all the points 
raised above. Moreover grievances have been set 
forth which are not likely to be disputed. And 
they are so serious as to require an immediate 

"That tawan and sharahbeshisattas and ab- 
wabs have been exacted cannot be questioned. I 
hope it will not be argued that the ryots can be 
fully protected as to these by recourse to law. It 
is submitted that where there is wholesale exac- 
tion, courts are not sufficient protection for the 
ryots and the administrative protection of the Sir- 
car as the supreme landlord is an absolute neces- 

" The wrongs are twofold. There are wrongs 
which are accomplished facts and wrongs which 


continue. The continuing wrongs need to be stop- 
ped at once and small enquiry may be made as to 
past wrongs such as damages and abwabs already 
taken and sharahbeshi payment already made. 
The ryots should be told by proclamation and 
notices distributed broadcast among them that 
they are not only not bound to pay abwabs, tawan 
and sharahbeshi charges but that they ought not 
to pay them, that the Sircar will protect them if 
any attempt is made to enforce payment thereof. 
They should further be informed that they are not 
bound to render any personal services to their 
landlords and that they are free to sell their ser- 
vices to whomsoever they choose and that they are 
not bound to grow indigo, sugarcane or any other 
crop unless they wish to do so and unless it is pro- 
fitable for them. The Bettiah Raj leases given to 
the factories should not be renewed until the 
wrongs are remedied and should, when renewed, 
properly safeguard ryots' rights. 

"As to dasturi it is clear that better paid and 
educated men should substitute the present hold- 
ers of responsible offices and that no countenance 
should be given to the diminution in ryots' wages 
by illegal exaction of dasturi. I feel sure that the 
planters are quite capable of dealing with the evil 
although it is in their language ' as old as the 
Himalayas '. 

" The ryots being secured in their freedom it 
would be no longer necessary to investigate the 
question of inadequacy or otherwise of the con- 
sideration in the indigo sattas and cart-hire sattas 
and the wages. The ryots by common agreement 
should be advised to finish indigo or other crops 


for the current year. But henceforth whether it is 
indigo or any other crop it should be only under a 
system of absolute free will. 

" It will be observed that I ha,ve burdened the 
statement with as little argument as possible. But 
if it is the desire of the Government that I should 
prove any one of my conclusions I shall be pleased 
to tender the proofs on which they are based. 

" In conclusion I would like to state that I have 
no desire to hurt the planters' feeling. I have re- 
ceived every courtesy from them. Believing as I 
do that ryots are labouring under a grievous wrong 
from which they ought to be freed immediately, I 
have dealt as calmly as is possible for me to do so, 
with the system which the planters are working. I 
have entered upon my mission in the hope that 
they as Englishmen born to enjoy the fullest per- 
sonal liberty and freedom will not fail to rise to 
their status and will not be grudging the ryots the 
same measure of liberty and freedom. 

u I am sending copies to the Commissioner of 
the Tirhut Division, the Collector of Champaran, the 
Sub-Divisional Officer of Bettiah, the Manager of 
the Bettiah Raj, the secretaries respectively of the 
Bihar Planters' Association and the District Plant- 
ers' Association. I am circulating also among those 
leaders of public opinion in the country who have 
kept themselves in touch with the work being done 
by my colleagues and myself. The copies are being 
marked " not for publication ", as there is no desire 
to invite a public discussion of the question unless 
it becomes absolutely necessary. 


" I need hardly give the assurance that I am at 
the disposal of the Government whenever my pre- 
sence may be required. 

I remain, 
Yours faithfully, 


After M^ahatmaji's return from Patna a change 
,was introduced in the method of recording the state- 
ments. Till then we used to record the entire state- 
ments of the tenants and as a matter of fact we had 
so far recorded such statements of about 4,000 
tenants. On the basis of these statements we pre- 
pared a list of the heads of grievances and it was nof 
necessary to record any more statements in full. 
Henceforward we made a precis note of their state- 
ments. This lightened our labour to some extent 
and we were able to give time to fully study and 
analyse the evidence so far collected. 

The planters on the other hand were very much 
perturbed and were trying to put obstacles in the 
way of Mahatmaji at every step. But the temper 
of tfye tenants was altogether changed and they were 
not likely to be cowed down by a show or threat of 
force on the part of the factory. The tenants who 
had been oppressed for hundred years or more began 
to realize that if they did not get their freedom on 
this occasion, they would continue in their bondage 
for ever. The boldness and the work of Mahatmaji in- 
spired them with courage. They were no more likely 
to be deterred from coming to him. 


On the upper floor of the dharamshala at Bet- 
tiah there was a small room. Mahatmaji occupied it, 
while his assistants used to stay on the ground-floor 
where they used to record statements or to do other 
things. The crowd of tenants usetf to be so large 
that it was difficult to work. The outer gate used to 
be closed. Only 'those tenants used to be taken to 
Mahatmaji whose statements contained something 
unusual or an interview with whom was considered 
necessary. The tenants however did not rest satis- 
fied with giving their statements. They would not 
return home without having a darshan of Mahatmaji, 
The gate used therefore to be opened every after- 
noon and they were allowed to go up to the extensive 
roof of the dharamshala which used to be filled up 
in no time. When the gate was opened, it was diffi- 
cult for some time on account of the rush of tenants 
to go up or down by the stair-cases. 

Mahatmaji had fully understood the significance 
of the hue and cry raised by the planters and he used 
to take such steps as he thought necessary to coun- 
teract Jtheir tactics. He used occasionally to send 
all available information to Government officials and 
kept most of the prominent leaders of the country in- 
formed of what was happening in Champaran. He 
used occasionally to send reports to them of the 
work done and to ask them to give such assistance 
as the occasion demanded or to keep themselves in 
readiness to render him assistance when called upon 
to do so. At the same time not one of these bulletins 
or reports or any of the facts mentioned therein was 
ever allowed to be published in newspapers. The 
reason was plain. Mahatmaji was anxious to redress 
the grievances of the tenants, not to create any 


agitation. In spite of this precaution, however, the 
planters left no stone unturned to hamper his work 
so that they might not be deprived of their ill-gotten 
profit derived principally from oppression of the 

On receipt of Mahatmaji's report, the Govern- 
ment called for reports on the same from the District 
officers, the Settlement Officer and the planters be- 
fore the 30th of June, 1917. It was not to be sup- 
posed, however, that during this period there was to 
be plain-sailing. How could the planters keep quiet 
over this matter ? On the 16th of May a telegram of 
the Associated Press, stated that a part of the Olaha 
factory which was one of the branches of the Tur- 
kaulia factory had been burnt, causing a loss of seve- 
ral thousands to the factory and that the planters 
suspected it to be a case of incendiarism. 

There is a factory called Dhokraha at a short 
distance from Bettiah. The manager of that factory 
Mr. A. K. Holttum had told Mahatmaji that his 
tenants had no complaints against him and had in- 
vited Mahatmaji to see some of his villages. He had 
said the same thing to Mr. Lewis also. It was ar- 
ranged that Mahatmaji would visit a place called 
Sarisawa. It is necessary to remind the readers that 
Mr. Holttum is the gentleman against whom the com- 
plaint of the tenants was that instead of taking 
enhancement agreements from them he had settled 
small bits of zerait land and had added to the rent 
of those bits the entire amount of enhancement to 
which he considered himself entitled. 

On the morning of the 16th May, Mahatmaji 
started for Dhokraha accompanied by the writer and 


Professor Kripalani, whose services had been dis- 
pensed with by the Muzaffarpur College and who 
had joined our party to assist Mahatmaji in his Cham- 
paran work. We started very early from Bettiah. We 
had conveyances but decided to walk. We reached 
Sarisawa bazaar which is about 8 miles from Bettiah, 
at about 8 a.m. A large number of tenants had as- 
sembled even before our arrival. On our way some 
tenants told us that the manager had arranged to 
bring a number of men with him who would come 
fully tutored to say that the tenants were quite con- 
tented, that they had no grievances whatsoever, etc. 

On arrival there Mr. Holttum also arrived. We 
all met in a small orchard. About 300 tenants were 
there. While Mahatmaji and Mr. Holttum were 
talking Mr. Lewis also arrived in his car. Mr. Holt- 
tum showed some papers to Mahatmaji and told him 
that complaint against him regarding enhancement 
was totally false, that he had settled his zerait lands 
with tenants on account of their persistent demand ; 
that by so settling his zerait he was not a gainer, 
rather he could earn more from those lands than he 
got as rent for them and that the tenants were at 
liberty to surrender them if they so desired. He also 
said that there were many tenants who were per- 
fectly satisfied with the management of the factory, 
and that a few tenants who might have complained 
to Mahatmaji must have done so under instigation 
from others. After saying this he referred to an old 
cultivator aged 70 or 80 years and said that he was 
the most respected tenant in the whole locality. He 
asked Mahatmaji to listen to what he had to say. 
Mahatmaji asked the old man, " Have you any trouble 


with the factory ? " He said at once, " No, sir ! All 
the people are perfectly happy under the factory and 
they get all kinds of advantage from it." He added 
that the people had willingly taken settlement of the 
zerait lands. No sooner had he said this than the 
entire body of tenants present there began to fret 
and fume with rage and indignation. They began to 
shout, " This* man is a traitor ; he is a partisan of the 
factory ; the sahib had tutored him ; " and addressing 
the old man they said, " Why are you in this old age 
adding to your burden of sin by your falsehoods. Your 
time is now nearly up ; remember God at least now 
and speak the truth." There was such a hubbub 
created there that it took a little time to restore quiet, 
About 15 more tenants made statements similar to 
that of the old man. Thereafter Mahatmaji enquired 
of the other tenants and they repudiated what had 
been said by the old man. Mahatmaji told them that 
he had been informed by the manager that they had 
taken hundu settlements willingly and that if they 
did not like the zerait land they were at liberty to 
surrender it. No sooner had he said this than all 
the tenants shouted out in one voice, " We surrender 
the zerait lands, we don't want them, let the sahib 
cultivate what he can on them, we have no objec- 
tion." This very much perturbed Mr. Holttum and 
he said, " If they do not like this he would make 
them grow indigo." Mahatmaji smiled and said, 
" Just a minute ago you had said that hunda settle- 
ment had no connection whatsoever with indigo and 
that by cultivating the zerait lands you would be 
able to make more profit than you were now getting. 
In these circumstances it is a matter both of profit 
and good name to you if you take back these lands, 


and release the tenants from what they evidently 
consider to be a burden/' Mr. Holttum only replied, 
" After all I have also to live." 

The tenants had become so bold and fearless that 
they began to complain against Mr. Lewis in his pre- 
sence. It was an extraordinary thing for Champa- 
ran. Who could have said before Mahatmaji's visit 
that the tenant of Champaran who usSd to conceal 
himself at the very sight of the factory Jamadar, who 
used to suffer all kinds of disgrace and oppression 
silently for fear of more and worse oppression coming 
if he complained about it, would in this way accuse 
the factory manager and the Sub-divisional Magis- 
trate in their very faces ? We were all much struck 
by this change. 

After the Sub-divisional Magistrate and Mr. 
Holttum had left, Mahatmaji asked us to take down 
the names of those who wished to surrender their 
hunda lands. We went on doing this upto the even- 
ing and still we could not finish it. We started from 
there at about 6 p.m. Mr. Holttum had enquired of 
Mahatmaji if he would have any objection to using 
his carriage. Mahatmaji accepted the offer after 
some hesitation and we returned in his carriage. We 
reached Bettiah at about 9 p.m. 

Dhokraha and Loheria are two adjoining facto- 
ries belonging to the same proprietor and Mr. Holt- 
tum was their manager. He used to live generally 
at Loheria. There was a great rush of tenants from 
these two factories at Bettiah on 17-5-17. They came 
to surrender their hunda lands. Their names were 
taken down. Those of them who could read and 
write were asked to put down their signatures, while 
the thumb impression of illiterate persons was taken. 


Mahatmaji wrote a letter to Mr. Holttum, detailing 
all that had happened and he also sent the names 
of these tenants who had surrendered their lands. 
The readers must know that the entire rent for that 
current year had been already realized and in some 
of those lands* there were crops standing; but the 
tenants were so anxious to surrender these zerait 
lands and to get rid of this hunia settlement that 
they surrendered their lands to the factory with the 
crops standing on them. About 500 tenants surren- 
dered their zerait lands in this way within two days. 
On the night of 18-5-' 17 fire broke out in one of 
the houses of Dhokraha factory and it was burnt. 
The tenants came running to Mahatmaji and inform- 
ed him that the factory people themselves had set 
fire to the factory to create an excuse for oppressing 
them. Mahatmaji immediately deputed Babu Vin- 
dhyabasiniprasad to proceed to the spot to find out 
the truth after a thorough inspection and local in- 
quiry. His report and the statements of the tenants 
were sent to the Government authorities. 

We believe that the fire * was not due to the 
tenants. We knew that whatever the cause of the 
fire might be the planters would create a great noise 
about it. After reading the Associated Press message 
about the Olaha factory, Mahatmaji had written the 
following letter to Mr. Heycock on the 14th of May : 

* This book was written in 1919. Since then I have had a 
confession from the man who was employed to burn this fac- 
tory. The plan according to him was to burn the factory at 
midnight, to rush to the authorities, get large body of armed 
police immediately and, if possible, to have the whole village 
looted. The plan failed because the man who was entrusted 
with the cipher message could not deliver it in time. 


" Dear Mr. Heycock, 

" I beg to refer you to the enclosed. All kinds 
of rumour have come before me. Pressure is being 
put upon me to make a statement. But I do not 
want to make any unauthorized statement. Will 
you kindly let me know for purposes of publica- 
tion the damage caused by the fire, the nature of the 
out-work burnt, whether it was inhabited or other- 
wise protected and whether any connection has 
been shown between my presence in Champaran 
and the fire ? 

" I am sending a special messenger who will 
await answer. 

Bettiah, Yours sincerely, 

14th May, 1917 M. K. Gandhi " 

Mr. Heycock replied as follows : 

" Dear Mr. Gandhi, 

" Your letter of the 14th May, 1917. I am able to give 
you the following information : 

" Olaha factory is an out-work of the Turkaulia concern. 
The buildings burnt down were the engine room, press 
house and cake-house. The value of the building has been 
roughly estimated at Rs. 20,000 but this is only a rough 
estimate. No manager or asst. manager is in residence 
at the out-work. There are, however, factory servants to 
look after the buildings. The out-work is situated about 
20 miles south east of Motihari. 

" The fact that the buildings were burnt down shortly 
after you came to the district and that your visit of enquiry 
has caused considerable excitement etc., may possibly ac- 
count for the rumours of all kinds which you say have 
come before you. 

Motihari, Yours sincerely, 

18th May, 1917 W. B. Heycock " 


At about 10 p.m. on the 17th of May, Mahatmaji 
was discussing some matters with us, when a man 
who called himself part-proprietor of a village Par- 
sauni came to us. He said that his other co-sharers 
had leased out .their shares to a factory, but he was 
not willing to lease out his share. The factory was, 
therefore, very much annoyed with him and putting 
him to all kinds of trouble. He had a small house 
in the village which was going to be looted on the 
following day. Mahatmaji at once deputed Professor 
Kripalani and the writer to proceed to the place to 
make an enquiry. The Police Sub-Inspector was also 
informed so that he might accompany us if he so 
desired. We started the same night. The village is 
about 30 or 35 miles from Bettiah and 8 or 9 miles 
from the nearest railway station. We alighted from 
the train at about 8 o'clock next morning and reach- 
ed Parsauni at about 10 o'clock. The Sub-Inspector 
of Police of Bettiah did not accompany us. But he 
sent information to the Thana within whose juris- 
diction the village was. The Sub-Inspector of the 
latter place arrived at the spot soon after us. We 
examined a large number of tenants. The Sub- 
Inspector was present all along. After completing 
our enquiry and having talked to the people we 
started late in the evening and we reached the rail- 
way station at 11 p.m. and returned to Bettiah the 
following morning at 9. 

The planters as well as the local officials were 
very much upset by all these activities and the pic- 
ture of a serious disturbance which Mr. Lewis had 
drawn from his imagination became still more deeply 
coloured by these and the incidents that had taken 
place at Sarisawa bazaar. The planters and their 


supporters were trying their level best to show that 
Mahatmaji's work in Champaran was fraught with 
mischief and to have him and his co-workers remov- 
ed from the District. At the same time they were 
trying to put pressure on the tenants to prevent them 
from coming to Mahatmaji. 

On the 20th of May, 1917, Mahatmaji wrote a 
letter to the Dist. Magistrate Mr. Heycock and sent 
along with it the statements of tenants of Dhokraha 
and Belwa factories. It is worthwhile quoting the 
letter in full as it shows Mahatmaji's method of work, 
his unflinching determination, firm faith in the jus- 
tice of the cause and above all his principle of self- 
suffering and non-violence. The letter was as fol- 
lows : 

" Dear Mr. Heycock, , 

" I have hitherto refrained from bringing to 
your notice statements which have continued to 
stream in to the effect that the ryots are being pre- 
vented from coming in to me and that those who 
have come in have been subjected to all kinds of 
pin-pricks by the Kothi Amals and in some cases 
by the managers themselves. I have discounted 
some of the statements. I have taken down a few. 
But if what I have heard about the doings of the 
Belwa and Dhokraha concerns is true, it is calcu- 
lated to end on one side at least the friendly spirit 
in which the inquiry has hitherto been carried on. 
I am most anxious to continue and to increase the 
friendly spirit. I am straining every nerve so far 
as in me lies to so conduct my mission that nothing 
but good-will should be left behind, when its 
labours are finished. I send you the statements 


taken regarding the Belwa and Dhokraha concerns. 
If the statements are true they do not reflect 
any credit upon the concerns in question. I 
enclose too my letter to Mr. Holttum which was 
written before I heard of the fire and which was 
Despatched before I took the statements of the 
Dhokraha men last evening after 6 p.m. 

" I understand and even appreciate the feelings 
which are bound to fill those who are called upon 
to contemplate the prospect of having to forego 
huge incomes which they have hitherto been in the 
habit, for a long time, of receiving from their, ryots. 
One cannot therefore mind any legitimate effort 
on their part to hold on to what they have con- 
sidered as their right. But what is reported to have 
happened at the Belwa and Dhokraha dehats does 
not, in my opinion, fall under such category. 

"It is a well-known fact that the desire of 
the planters generally is that my friends and I 
should not carry on our work. I can only say that 
nothing but physical force from the Government 
or an absolute guarantee that the admitted or pro- 
vable wrongs of the ryots are to stop for ever, can 
possibly remove us from the District. What I have 
seen of the condition of the ryots is sufficient to 
convince me tl\at if we withdraw at this stage, we 
would stand condemned before man and God and, 
what is more important of all, we would never be 
able to forgive ourselves. 

" But the mission is totally of peace. I cannot 
too often give the assurance that I bear no ill-will 
against the planters. I have been told that that is 
true of myself but my friends are fired with an 
anti-English feeling and that for them it is an 


anti-English movement. I can only say that I do 
not know a body of men who have less of that feel- 
ing than my friends. I was not prepared for the 
pleasant revelation. I was prepared for some degree 
of ill-will. I would have held it excusable. I do 
not know if I have not been guilty of it myself 
under circumstances which have appeared to me 
most provoking. But if I found that any of my 
associates were in the conduct of this mission ac- 
tuated by any ill-will at all, I should dissociate 
myself entirely from them and insist upon their 
leaving the mission. At the same time the deter- 
mination to secure freedom for the ryots from the 
yoke that is wearing them down is inflexible. 

" Cannot the Government secure that free- 
dom ? This is a natural exclamation. My answer 
is that they cannot, in cases like this, without such 
assistance as is afforded to them by my mission. 
The Government machinery is designedly slow. It 
moves, must move, along the line of least resist- 
ance. Reformers like myself who have no other 
axe to grind but that of the reform they are hand- 
ling for the time being specialize and create a 
force which the Government must reckon with. 
Reformers may go wrong by being overzealous, 
indiscreet or indolent and ignorant. The Govern- 
ment may go wrong by being impatient of them or 
over-confident of their ability to do without them. 
I hope in this case neither catastrophe will take 
place and the grievances which I have already sub- 
mitted and which are mostly admitted will be 
effectively redressed. Then the planters will have 
no cause to fear or suspect the mission of which 
I have the honour to be in charge and they will 


gladly accept the assistance of volunteers who will 
carry on the work of education and sanitation 
among the villagers and act as links between them 
and the ryots. 

" Pray excuse the length of this letter as also 
its argumentative character. I could not avoid it, 
if I was to place my true position before you. In 
bringing the two matters which have necessitated 
this communication I have no desire to seek legal 
relief. But I ask you to use such administrative 
influence as you can to preserve the friendly spirit 
which has hitherto prevailed between the kothis 
and my friends and myself. 

" I do not wish to suggest that the kothis in 
question are responsible for the fires. That is the 
suspicion of some of the ryots. I have talked to 
hundreds of them about the two fires. They say 
that the ryots are not responsible for them, that 
they have no connection with the mission. I readily 
accept the repudiation because we are incessantly 
telling the ryots that this is not a mission of vio- 
lence or reprisals and that any such thing on their 
part can only delay relief. But if the kothis may 
not be held responsible for them, they may not 
seek to establish a connection between them and 
the mission. Fires have taken place before now 
and, mission or no mission, they will take place for 
ever. Neither party may blame the other without 
the clearest possible proofs. 

" There is talk too about the life of the plant- 
ers being in danger. Surely this cannot be serious 
talk. Any way the mission cannot render them less 
safe than they are. The character of the mission 
is wholly against any such activity. It is designed 


to seek relief by self-suffering, never by doing 
violence to the supposed or real wrong-doer. And 
this lesson has been inculcated among the ryots in 
season and out of season. 

" Lastly, there is, I fear, ample proof of inti- 
midation such as is described in the statements 
hereto attached. Intimidation can only mean more 
trouble all round without meaning the slightest re- 
lief to the planters in the shape of retention of the 
present system. 

" I seek such help as you can vouchsafe in the 
circumstances, I have ventured to place before you. 

Bettiah, Yours sincerely, 

20th May, 1927 M. K. Gandhi " 

A great hue and cry was raised in the Anglo- 
Indian Press. The readers will remember that in 
April 1915, Babu Brajakishoreprasad had proposed to 
the Government to appoint a Committee of enquiry. 
The representative of the planters, Mr. Filgate, had 
vehemently opposed the resolution. But in May 
1917, the European Defence Association, the great 
supporter of the planters, suggested the appointment 
of a Commission and the Anglo-Indian papers joined 
in a chorus in making a similar demand. On 15-5-'17, 
the chief Anglo-Indian paper in Northern India, the 
Pioneer whose comments are typical of those of the 
Anglo-Indian Press, wrote as follows : 

" It appears to us that the Government of Bihar could 
do well forthwith to appoint a Commission to investigate 
the differences which exist between the planters and the 
ryots in the Indigo Districts. It is difficult to see what 
good can come of Mr. Gandhi's investigation. But an en- 
quiry conducted with strict impartiality by a Commission 
containing possibly a non-official element would give both 


sides a fair opportunity of stating their cases and ought 
to result in a lasting peace." 



While, on the one hand, the Pioneer was advising 
the appointment of a Committee the planters, on the 
other, were poisoning the ears of the Government 
about the fires. The result was that on 29th May 
1917 Mahatmaji was summoned by the Government 
to Ranchi. Sir Edward Gait, the Lieut-Governor 
fixed the 4th of June for an interview with him. 

We could not quite understand the reason of this 
call. The District officers had not yet submitted their 
opinions on Mahatmaji's report. The call could not 
therefore be for discussing that matter. Then re- 
mained the planters and the agitation in the Anglo- 
Indian Press, the fire in two factories and the imagi- 
nary fear of a disturbance in the minds of local offi- 
cers. We apprehended that there must be something 
wrong about this call. It was therefore necessary to 
proceed cautiously and to be prepared for all even- 
tualities. Our party should be well organized and 
should be ready to face any untoward turn events 
might take. Plainly speaking we suspected that 
Mahatmaji might not be allowed to return from 
Ranchi. We discussed the future plan of action if 
that came to pass. Pandit Madanmohan Malaviya 
was wired to come to Patna for consultation. Mahat- 
maji wired to his wife who was in Calcutta to 
come and meet him at Ranchi. His youngest son 


Devadas Gandhi, who was at the Sabarmati Satya- 
graha Ashram was also telegraphed to come to 
Ranchi. The writer was deputed to Patna to consult 
the leaders there. On the second of June Mahatmaji 
reached Patna with Babu Brajakishqre. Pandit Mala- 
viya had already arrived on the previous evening. A 
conference was held and it was decided that if any 
action was taken against Mahatmaji then either Mr. 
Haque or Pandit Madanmohan Malaviya would take 
charge of the work in Champaran. A programme 
similar to that prepared on the 18th of April was 
again made. Correspondence with leaders of the 
country was started. The same day Mahatmaji and 
Babu Brajakishoreprasad left for Ranchi, while Pan- 
dit Madanmohan Malaviya returned to Allahabad. 

The- planters had left no stone unturned to get 
Mahatmaji .and his assistants removed from Cham- 
paran and to render his work infructuous. On the 
31st May the Muzaffarpur branch of the European 
Defence Association passed the following resolutions : 

1. That the presence of Mr. Gandhi in his self-impos- 
ed mission has been accompanied by unrest and crime. 

2. That his continued presence there is likely to be 
disastrous to the welfare of the Europeans in Champaran 
and the peace of the District. 

3. That they request the European Central Associa- 
tion in Calcutta to press on The Government the absolute 
necessity, if they wish to maintain law and order in Cham- 
paran District, to have Mr. Gandhi and his assistants re- 
moved from there at once and also that there is great 
fear of lawlessness spreading to the neighbouring Districts. 

On the 3rd of June, 1917 the Pioneer published 
a long letter written by Mr. Irwin, the manager of 
the Motihari factory. Mr. Irwin had actually writ- 
ten the letter on the 23rd of May, but the Pioneer 


published it on the 3rd of June, just on the eve of 
Mahatma Gandhi's interview with the I jieut. -Gover- 
nor. It is necessary to say a word or two about 
Mr. Irwin here as he wrote several letters to the 
Press in connection with the enquiry, about which 
we may have to* say something at the proper place. 
Mr. W. S. Irwin is an old and powerfuL planter. He 
is the manager of the Motihari factory and has been 
connected with it for a long time. He was in a way 
the pioneer amongst the planters in the matter of 
taking enhancement agreements and realizing tawan 
from the tenants. He it was who had taken legal 
advice about the sharahbeshi (enhancement) and 
tawan and carried on correspondence with the Gov- 
ernment. It was in his factory that in 1906 trouble 
about these things at first arose. It is his boast that 
his tenants never go to courts against him. Very 
few of his tenants had dared to complain against 
sharahbeshi and tawan to the authorities. From 
these facts he wants to impress upon others that his 
tenants were contented and that there was no trouble. 
The tenants, however, have a different tale to tell. 
They say that Mr. Irwin's organization is so perfect 
and his method so effective that with all their sui ? - 
ferings the tenants dare not go to law courts. It was 
a patwari of this Mr. Irwin who had told Mahatma ji 
that a Sub-Inspector or a Magistrate was nothing as 
compared to his Sahib. Mr. Irwin in the letter which 
was published in the Pioneer of the 3rd of June, to 
show his impartiality in the matter wrote as follows : 
" Very occasionally brief paragraphs appear in your 
columns alluding to Mr. Gandhi and his so-called mission 
in Champaran but it is more than evident you have no 
appreciation of the harm he is doing and has already 
succeeded in doing. 


" When the local authorities first . became aware of 
Mr. Gandhi's threatened visit, they very wisely and cor- 
rectly took action to restrain him but, on appeal by him, 
this order was upset by the Provincial Government and 
Mr. Gandhi was permitted to continue his mischievous 
intention. He wanted to go to a village in the Peepra 
factory " dihat " and thereby encourage the villagers some 
of whom were under trial for severely assaulting the 
European Sub-manager, but he was stopped by the police. 
Then when detained by the local authorities and awaiting 
the order of the Government he occupied himself in Moti- 
hari recording the ex parts statements of some hundreds of 
Peepra and Turkaulla concern ryots who were induced 
by his entourage to come to him. When Government 
orders were received revoking the earlier proceedings he 
passed on to Bettiah, but his doings in Motihari bore fruit 
and shortly after his departure an out-work of the Tur- 
kaulia concern was burnt down. I may here say paren- 
thetically that of 20,000 ryots (more or less) not a dozen 
men attempted to go near Mr. Gandhi, and of these the 
majority went out of curiosity pure and simple and no 
serious charges of any kind were made. So in this matter 
I have no " personal " quarrel with Mr. Gandhi. Naturally 
his arrival in the Bettiah Sub-Division was objected to by 
both planters and officials and the former sent a deputa- 
tion to Ranchi to try to get the Government to put an end 
to, or at any rate keep under some control Mr. Gandhi's 
activities. This resulted in the local officials and Mr. 
Gandhi being summoned by wire to attend a conference 
in Bankipore which ended in Mr. Gandhi's being permitted 
to return and continue his doings now more uncontrolled 
than ever and clothed in the ryots' mind in the garment 
of recognition and approval by Government. He visited 
a village in the Dhokraha factory "dehat" the ryots of 
which in his presence and before the S. D. O. and factory 
manager, foully abused in Hindustani the factory head ser- 
vant and while Mr. Gandhi was still in the neighbourhood, 
but not actually within sight, assaulted and grossly mal- 
treated a most respectable old man, who, too aged and infirm 
to walk, had to come in a cart to make statements in fac- 
tory's favour and finally two days or so later the factory 


office was set fire to and burnt down. There can be no 
possible doubt in any reasonable person's mind as to cause 
and effects in both this and Turkaulia incident. But 
everybody who deserves to be in a position to know, 
knows that the whole movement is meretricious and 
Champaran has been selected for the exploitation of it for 
the following reasons : 1. There is practically only one 
proprietor (mahk) in the whole District The Bettiah Court 
of Wards estate, i.e., the Local Govermrfent. In Tirhut 
and Saran most villages are owned by several small share- 
holders, many residents, and an agitator who would venture 
to go in there and act, as he has been doing here would 
meet with short shrifts. The engineers of the movement 
have no desire to get up against the Maharaja of Dar- 
bhanga. 2. Champaran with its large community of Euro- 
pean Zamindars is eminently the place to start with hopes 
of success a class agitation. Mr. Gandhi, I believe, is a 
well-intentioned philanthropist but he is a crank and 
fanatic and is too utterly obsessed with his partial success 
in South Africa and his belief that he has been ordained 
by Providence to be a righter of wrongs. To be able 
to realize that, he is being made a cat's paw of by (i) 
Pleaders and Mukhtears etc., who know that planters settle 
free, gratis and for nothing at least 75 per cent, of disputes 
among ryots which would otherwise bring grist to their 
mills ; (ii) Mahajans and money lenders whose usurious 
dealings with ryots have been greatly checked and who 
cannot now, owing to the action of the planters, acquire 
the debtor's best lands without the consent of the land- 
owners and by (iii) Home Rule politicians who hope to 
demonstrate on the, for them, happy hunting ground of 
Champaran that officials and non-officials go hand in hand 
to oppress the population and so to prove that the District 
and incidentally all India is being misgoverned under the 
British Raj. 

" What do these people care for ryots save to make 
use of them for their own purpose ? For the protection 
of the property of the Champaran planters, one and pro- 
bably only one step is essentially necessary and that is the 
removal of Mr. Gandhi from the District. The extreme 


forbearance of the planters has so far prevented the out- 
break of any very serious disturbance, but unless Govern- 
ment can see its way to protecting them they will unavoid- 
ably be forced into taking the steps necessary for their 
own protection." 

It need only be stated about thijS letter that Mr. 
Irwin's comment that not a dozen of his tenants had 
attempted to go near Mr. Gandhi was wholly un- 
founded as we had by that time recorded the state- 
ments of some 300 of them. 

The Anglo-Indian Press commenting on the 
European Defence Association resolutions, attacked 
the proposal for a non-official enquiry by " agita- 
tors ", called on the Government to suppress their 
activities and, if necessary, appoint their own Com- 
mission of enquiry. The Indian Press throughout 
the country on the other hand, fully supported 
Gandhiji in all his activities, pointed to their signifi- 
cant implications of planter opposition to the enquiry 
and insisted on the enquiry being carried out. 



While on the one hand this agitation was going 
on in the Press,* Sir Edward Gait was holding discus- 
sions with Mahatma Gandhi on the other, regarding 
the situation in Champaran. We had all taken our 
respective places on the 4th June and were every 
minute expecting a message from Ranchi. We were 
being tossed about by a wave of speculation. Just 
as the Government officials had pictured to them- 
selves an imaginary disturbance and had been tak- 
ing steps to get Mahatma Gandhi and his party 
removed from Champaran, even so were we ex- 
periencing the effects of an imaginary order of 
externment. The feeling was not one of fear, but 
of a deep curiosity. The whole of the night of the 
4th June was spent by us in these dreams and reve- 
ries. On the morning of the 5th, at about 8 o'clock, 
a telegraph peon was seen coming and we all ran 
towards him. We were all anxious to know what 
the telegram contained ; but there was nothing de- 
finite in it. It only said, " Today's interview satisfac- 
tory, meeting again tomorrow. " We waited the whole 
night for it, but none came. The anxiety on this day 
was not so keen, nor were we subject to evil thoughts 
to the same extent as on the previous day. But there 
was no peace of mind. The 6th of June also passed 
away in the same condition of suspense. On the 7th 
of June we received a telegram from Mahatmaji in- 
forming us that he would return from Ranchi on the 



From the 4th to the 6th of June Mahatmaji was 
engaged in interviewing Sir Edward Gait and the 
members of his Executive Council, as a result of 
which, it was decided that an Enquiry Committee 
should be appointed and that Mahatma Gandhi 
should be one of its members. The names of other 
members were also settled at the same time, but as 
their consent had not yet been obtained, it was de- 
cided not to publish their names until such consent 
was obtained. On his way to Ranchi Shrimati Kastur- 
bai Gandhi and Shrijut Devadas Gandhi had met him 
at Asansol and accompanied him to Ranchi. Mahat- 
maji, Shrimati Gandhi, Devadasji and Babu Braja- 
kishore arrived at Patna on the morning of the 7th 
of June. Pandit Malaviya was already there waiting 
for them. After meeting all friends Mahatmaji left 
Patna on the morning of the 8th and reached Bettiah 
the same afternoon. 

The news had already reached Bettiah that 
Shrimati Gandhi was coming with Mahatmaji. 
There was a large crowd to welcome her at the sta- 
tion. She took her residence in another small room. 
The Associated Press representative at Patna some- 
how managed to get the news in spite of the Govern- 
ment prohibition and wired that a Commission was 
going to be appointed. This news was published in 
the papers of the 8th June. The Government seeing 
various inaccuracies in it issued the following com- 
munique on the llth of June : 

" The attention of the Government of Bihar and Orissa 
has been drawn to a communication dated 7th June on the 
subject of agrarian situation in Champaran, which ema- 
nated from the Bankipore correspondent of the Associated 
Press. It was published in several newspapers of June 8th. 
The communication was made without the knowledge or 


authority of the Local Government and contained various 
incorrect and misleading statements. The Local Govern- 
ment intend to appoint a Committee to enquire into the 
relations existing between the landlords and the tenants of 
the Champaran District and will shortly announce its con- 
stitution and terms of reference." 
On the 13th of June 1917, a Government com- 
munique announcing the appointment of a Commit- 
tee of enquiry and its personnel was published. 

On 31-5-17 when Mahatma Gandhi was going to 
Ranchi, we were apprehending many things. On the 
8th June, instead of being interned at Ranchi, he re- 
turned to Bettiah with his wife, son and co-workers. 
What a tremendous change within these 8 days. He 
who had been summoned to Sir Edward Gait's pre- 
sence almost as an accused, returned on this day as 
a member of a committee entrusted with the work of 
giving redress to the tenants of Champaran. The 
reader may very well ask what the reason of this was. 
A real and genuine desire to secure relief for the 
tenants and an equally genuine anxiety to avoid any 
thought of doing any injury to the planters, a readi- 
ness to suffer for his principles and for what he con- 
sidered to be his duty, an unalterable faith in the 
power of truth and a complete absence of fear from 
worldly powers these made such a tremendous 
change possible. To hold to these firmly is called 
Satya Ircha. 

The publication of the news of the Committee 
created a great stir among Anglo-Indian papers. In 
their issue of the 9th June the Pioneer, the Statesman 
and the Englishman said, as if in one voice, that the 
only proper course was to remove Mahatma Gandhi 
from Champaran, because his presence after the ap- 
pointment of the Committee was no longer justified. 


They did not know that Mahatma Gandhi too 
was appointed a member of the Committee. On 
the 8th of June immediately after the receipt of in- 
formation about the appointment of the Committee 
Mr. Alec Marsh, the Secretary of, the European 
Association of Calcutta, wrote the following letter to 
the Government which also throws a flood of light 
on the previous activities of his Committee : 

" I have the honour to address you by direction of the 
Council of the European Association with reference to Mr. 
Gandhi's visit in Champaran District and the matters that 
have arisen in consequence of his presence. On the 3rd 
May Jast, I telegraphed you a copy of a telegram despatch- 
ed to the Government of India regarding the grave situa- 
tion in the Champaran District and on the 4th Ma}' I for- 
warded you a copy of letter No. 1575 addressed to the 
Government of India regarding the same matter. 

" My Council observe with great satisfaction the deci- 
sion of your Government to appoint a Committee to en- 
quire and investigate into the relations between landlords 
and tenants in the province of Bihar and Orissa. 

" My Council are of opinion that the terms of refer- 
ence should be as wide as possible, so as to comprise not 
merely the questions which have resulted in the appoint- 
ment of the Committee but any which have actually proved 
a source of trouble in the past or may do hereafter. It 
is extremely important that so far as can possibly be now 
effected all grievances real and imaginary should be finally 
enquired info and removed. 

" I am also directed to urge that the enquiry should 
be held in public and not in camera. Proceedings of this 
nature in camera invariably afford ground for criticism 
that there is something to be concealed from the public 
or that some person is being shelved. In a matter of this 
kind this Council consider that the public should be per- 
mitted to form its own opinion. 

" My Council desire to impress on your Government 
that Mr. Gandhi having completed his self-appointed task 


of investigating the relation between the landlords and 
the tenants in the Champaran District and having submit- 
ted his report to you in his letter of May 13th, there is 
no further necessity for his presence in that District. Your 
Government are doubtless aware of the grave anxiety ex- 
isting among the planting community that serious trouble 
may arise at any moment. Also that opinion is generally 
hold by the same Committee that the continued presence 
of Mr. Gandhi and his entourage in Champaran is likely 
to precipitate serious trouble in various directions. My 
Council would therefore urge upon the Government as 
strongly as possible, that Mr. Gandhi and his entourage 
be required by Government to remove themselves from 
the Champaran District except in so far as Mr. Gandhi's 
presence may be desired* by the proposed Committee." 

The Indian Daily News of Calcutta commented 
on this letter as follows : 

" Now that the Bihar and Orissa Government have de- 
cided to appoint a small committee of enquiry to investi- 
gate the whole question of relation between the landlord 
and the tenant in the Province, it seems impossible that 
they can allow a roving Commission to an agitator who 
has to make his case good or stand discredited." 

Unfortunately for them, however, Mahatma 
Gandhi's presence was necessary even for the En- 
quiry Committee and the desire of the European Asso- 
ciation that the enquiry should commence only after 
Mahatrnaji had been removed could not be fulfilled. 
It was an irony of fate that the allegations made by 
the " roving " Commissioner were eventually found 
by the Committee to be true. The Government of 
Bihar issued a resolution on 10th of June regarding 
the appointment of the Commission and it was pub- 
lished in the papers of the 12th June. That resolu- 
tion itself shows that the grievances of the tenants 
of Champaran were neither new nor were they the 
result of the machination of " agitators ". It is 


necessary to quote that resolution in its entirety. It 
was as follows : 

" (1) On various occasions during the past fifty years 
the relations between the landlords and tenants and the cir- 
cumstances attending the growing of indigo in the Cham- 
paran District have been the cause of considerable anxiety. 
The conditions under which indigo was cultivated when 
the industry was flourishing required re-adjustment, when 
it declined simultaneously with a general rise in the prices 
of food grains, and it was partly on this account and partly 
owing to other 'local causes that disturbances broke out 
in certain indigo concerns in 1908. Mr. Gourlay was depu- 
ted by the Government of Bengal to investigate the causes 
of the disturbances and his report and recommendations 
were considered at a series of conferences presided over by 
Sir Edward Baker and attended by local officers of Govern- 
ment and representatives of the Bihar Planters' Association. 

" The result of these discussions revised the conditions 
for the cultivation of indigo in a manner calculated to 
remove the grievances of the ryots. The revised condi- 
tions were accepted by the Bihar Planters' Association. 

" (2) In 1912 a fresh agitation arose connected not so 
much with the conditions under which indigo was grown, 
as with the action of certain factories which were reducing 
their indigo manufacture and taking agreements from their 
tenants for the payment in lieu of indigo cultivation of 
a lump sum in temporarily leased villages or of an in- 
crease of rent in villages under permanent lease. Numer- 
ous petitions on the subject were presented from time to 
time to the local officers and to the Government and peti- 
tions were at the same time filed by ryots of villages in 
the north of the Bettiah sub-division in which indigo had 
never been grown, complaining of the levy of abwab or 
illegal additions to rent, by their lease holders, both Indian 
and European. As the issues raised by all these petitions 
related primarily to rent and tenancy conditions and as 
the revision of settlement of the District was about to be 
undertaken in the course of which the relations existing 
between the landlords and tenants would come under de- 
tailed examination, it was thought advisable to await the 


report of the Settlement Officers before passing final orders 
on the petitions. The revision settlement was started in 
the cold weather of 1913. On the 7th April 1915, a reso- 
lution was moved in the local Legislative Council asking 
for the appointment of a mixed Committee of officials and 
non-officials to, enquire into the complaints of the ryots 
and to suggest remedies. It was negatived by a large 
majority, including 12 out of 16 non-official members of 
the Council present, on the ground that the appointment 
of such a Committee at that stage was unnecessary, as the 
Settlement Officers were engaged in the decision of the 
questions at issue and an additional enquiry of the nature 
proposed would merely hlve the effect of further exacer- 
bating the relations of landlord and tenant ; which were 
already feeling the strain of the settlement operations. 

" (3) The settlement operations have been now com- 
pleted in the northern portion of the District, and are 
approaching completion in the remainder and a mass of 
evidence regarding agricultural conditions and the rela- 
tions between landlords and tenants has been collected. A 
preliminary^ report on the complaints of the tenants in 
the leased villages in the north of the Bettiah sub-division 
in which no indigo is grown has been received, and action 
has already been taken to prohibit the levy of illegal cesses 
and in the case of the Bettiah Raj to review the terms of 
the leases on which the villages concerned are held. As 
regards the complaints of the ryots in other parts of the 
District the final report of the Settlement Officer has not 
yet been received, but recent events have again brought 
into prominence the whole question of the relations be- 
tween landlords and tenants, and in particular the taking 
of agreements from the ryots for compensation, or for 
enhanced rent in return for the abandonment of indigo 
cultivation. In these circumstances and in reference to 
representations which have been received from various 
quarters that the time has come when an enquiry by a 
joint body of officials and non-officials might materially 
assist the Local Government in coming to a decision on the 
problems which have arisen, the Lieut.-Governor In 
Council has decided without waiting for the final report 


of the settlement operations to refer the question at issue 
to a Committee of Enquiry on which all interests con- 
cerned will be represented. 

" (4) The following Committee has accordingly been 
appointed with the approval of the Government of India: 
President : Mr. F. G. Slay, C. S. I., Commissioner Central 
Provinces. Members : The Hon'ble Mr. L. C. Adami, I. C. S., 
Superintendent and Remembrancer of Legal Affairs, 
B. & O. ; the Hon'ble Raja Hariharprasad Narayansingh, * 
Member of the B. & O. Legislative Council ; The Hon'ble 
Mr. D. J. Reid, Member of the B. & O. Legislative Council ; 
Mr. G. Rainy, I. C. S., Deputy Secretary in the Finance 
Department of the Government of India; and Mr. M. K. 
Gandhi. Secretary: M. E. L. Tanner I. C. S., Settlement 
Officer in South Bihar. 

" (5) The duty of the Committee will be (a) to enquire 
into the relations between landlords and tenants in Cham- 
paran District including all the disputes arising out of the 
manufacture and cultivation of indigo ; (b) to .examine the 
evidence on these subjects already available, supplement- 
ing it by such further enquiry, local and otherwise, as 
they may consider desirable, and (c) to report their con- 
clusions to the Government stating the measures they re- 
commend to remove any abuses or grievances which they 
may find to exist. 

" The Lieut.-Governor-in-Council desires to leave the 
Committee a free hand as to the procedure they will adopt 
in arriving at the facts. The Committee will assemble 
about the 15th July and will, it is hoped, complete their 
labours within three months." 
The planters, however, were not at all satisfied 

with the appointment of Mahatma Gandhi. Mr. J. V. 

Jameson, whose name has already been mentioned, 

wrote the following letter which was published in 

the Statesman of 22nd June, 1917 : 

* It is necessary to state here that on account of the ill- 
health of the Hon'ble Raja Hariharprasad Narayansingh, 
Raja Krityanandsingh, B. A. of Banaily was appointed in his 


" With regard to Mr. Gandhi's appointment to the 
Committee it is difficult to see what his qualifications for 
the post consist of. He is a complete stranger to the Pro- 
vince and ignorant of its complicated system of land tenure. 
He came to the District frankly prejudiced in his views 
on the question while he professed his intention of making 
an impartial enquiry. He has spent a considerable time 
at the head of a band of agitators who by means of ex- 
aggerated stories as to his position and authority have 
attempted to induce the ryots to break their agreements 
and to ignore the decisions of the Settlement and Civil 
Courts and have succeeded in raising a considerable amount 
of racial ill-feeling. As his and his colleagues' activities 
are very important factors in the present relations between 
landlords and tenants they must inevitably come within the 
scope of this Committee's enquiry, and it would surely be 
more fitting that he should be required to justify his actions 
and the statements and recommendations which he has 
already submitted to Government, the very point on which 
this Committee is required to report, rather than that he 
should be put in the ludicrous position of judging his own 
case and reporting on the very conclusions and recom- 
mendations which he has himself put forward." 

The allegation of Mr. Jameson that Mahatma 
Gandhi came to Champaran with a prejudice is, of 
course, unfounded. Whatever opinion Mahatmaji 
formed about Champaran was the result of his obser- 
vations and the information which he gathered on 
the spot. His preliminary report would show how he 
had mastered the situation and the report of the 
Enquiry Committee shows that his conclusions were 
all literally true. 


Between the appointment of the Enquiry Com- 
mittee and the commencement of its sittings 
Mahatmaji decided to pay a visit to Bombay and his 
assistants were also given a few days' holiday to go 
home. The Committee was to commence its work 
only on the 15th July and after the publication of 
the Government resolution, there being no further 
need, the work of recording the statements of ryots 
was stopped from 12th June. On the 16th of June 
Mahatmaji went away to Bombay and his assistants 
removed from Bettiah to Motihari and began to sort 
the evidence which should be placed before the Com- 
mittee. Till then the full statements of more than 
8,000 tenants had been recorded under the personal 
supervision of Mahatma Gandhi. It has been stated 
above that there were 2,841 villages and tenants from 
no less than 850 villages had made statements which 
were against as many as 60 factories. Over and above 
these statements we had collected a large number 
of documents many of which were judgments of 
Courts. So long as the assistants were engaged in 
recording statements, they did not get much time to 
study the documents. When the recording of state- 
ments was stopped, we began to study the documents 
carefully. We had to decide after careful scrutiny 
and selection what witnesses and what documents 
should be produced before the Committee. Even after 
the 12th of June, when we stopped recording state- 
ments, tenants continued to come in large numbers. 



They used to be told that no more statements would 
be recorded and their grievances would be consider- 
ed by the Committee. When the tenants learned that 
statements were not recorded, many of them sent their 
complaints by jDost. The police continued to bestow 
their attention on us even after the appointment of 
the Committee. Some police officer made a report 
to the Government that statements were being taken 
even after the 12th June. This was of course untrue 
and Babu Brajakishoreprasad who was in charge of 
affair in Mahatmaji's absence repudiated it. All 
this kept us engaged for about a fortnight and Mahat- 
maji returned from Bombay to Motihari on the 28th 
June '17. Mahatmaji brought with himself Dr. 
Hari Shrikrishna Deva, the Secretary of the Servants 
of India Society to help him in the mission. 

On his return Mahatmaji also devoted himself 
to the study of the evidence. Before the commence- 
ment of the work the Committee was to hold a preli- 
minary meeting at Ranchi to settle its programme of 
work and such other preliminary matters. Mahat- 
maji and Babu Brajakishore accordingly left Motihari 
for Ranchi on the 5th July and arrived there on the 
7th. The Committee met on the llth July and 
Mahatmaji returned to Motihari on the 13th July. 
It was settled that the Committee should sit at Bet- 
tiah from the 17th July. Bettiah was preferred to 
Motihari evidently for the reason that it being the 
Headquarters of the Raj, it offered better convenien- 
ces for the comforts of the guests who came for the 
Committee. . The European members of the Commit- 
tee were lodged at the guest-house of the Raj, while 
the Rajasaheb of Banaily stayed in the Raj palace. 
Mahatmaji and his party took their lodgings at their 


old place, the dharamshala of Babu HazarimaL With 
the exception of Mahatmaji, all the members of the 
Committee reached Bettiah on the 14th July. It had 
been announced that the Committee would hold its 
sittings from about the 15th of July at Bettiah, Moti- 
hari and other places and any one who wanted to say 
anything about Champaran must send his written 
note to the secretary of the Committee. This notice 
had been published in the newspapers and its copies 
were hung up in the Court premises. The tenants of 
the whole District had thus come to know that the 
enquiry would commence at Bettiah from the 15th 

It is difficult to guess what hopes, what appre- 
hensions possessed the minds of Champaran tenants. 
They instinctively felt on the advent of Mahatmaji 
that their grievances would go and when they 
saw that even the Government had agreed to 
appoint an Enquiry Committee of which Mahatma 
Gandhi was to be one of the members, the hope 
became doubly confirmed and large crowds of 
tenants assembled at Bettiah on the 15th July. In 
the streets, in the market place, in the spacious 
maidan of the town of Bettiah wherever one turned 
one's eyes, one saw groups of tenants. It looked as 
if there was to be a big fair. The dharamshala where 
Mahatmaji was staying was always full of visitors. 

The number of tenants increased on the 16th 
and it is estimated that no less than ten thousand 
tenants were present at Bettiah on that day. Mahat- 
maji was busy studying the papers, supplied by the 
Committee ; his assistants were equally busy and had 
no time to attend to the tenants, who were anxious 
to have a look at Mahatmaji. The Committee could 


not commence its work on the 15th July. Mahatmaji 
was anxious that the tenants should not lose heart 
in any way. He accordingly came out in the after- 
noon of the 16th. As soon as Mahatmaji came out, 
the crowd swelled in number and the spacious gar- 
den and the compound of the dharamshala were 
filled with men. In a short speech, he explained to 
them that the Committee had been appointed to re- 
dress their grievances, that they should not go in 
large numbers to the meeting place of the Committee, 
and that if they had to make any complaint they 
should do so before Mahatmaji's assistants. Babu 
Brajakishoreprasad also explained this matter to 
the tenants. After Mahatmaji's speech the. tenants 
went back perfectly satisfied. 

It has already been said that a notice had been 
published inviting intending witnesses to submit 
their statements to the Committee. In response to 
it the Bihar Planters' Association, the managers of 
two factories, 25 tenants, Mr. J. T. Whitty, the Mana- 
ger of the Bettiah Raj, Mr. J. A. Sweeney, the Settle- 
ment Officer, Mr. E. H. Lewis, the S. D. 6. of Bettiah, 
Mr. L. F. Morshead, the Commissioner of the Tirhut 
Division, Mr. E. H. Johnstone, an Ex-S. D. O. of Bet- 
tiah, submitted statements. The Bihar Planters' 
Association had been particularly requested to repre- 
sent their case, but they replied that they had no- 
thing particular to say. 

Examination of witnesses commenced at Bettiah 
on the 17th of July. The Committee used to meet in 
the hostel of the Bettiah Raj school. On behalf of 
the planters Mr. Pringle Kennedy, a well-known 
lawyer of Muzaffarpur, was watching the proceed- 
ings. Mahatmaji's assistants and tenants were 


admitted to the Committee on tickets. In spite of all 
our efforts the crowd did not dimmish. The roads 
were full of men. Two of our party were deputed 
to maintain order among the crowd. Although 
policemen in their uniforms were not much in evi- 
dence, they were posted in plain clothes. The Com- 
mittee began its proceedings exactly at 11 a.m. The 
Associated Press of India, The Amrita Bazar Patrika, 
and the Bengalee had deputed their special corres- 
pondents to report the proceedings. 

Mr. Sweeney was the first witness and his exa- 
mination took the whole day. On the 18th July Mr. 
Lewis was examined in the fore-noon and Mr. Whitty 
in the afternoon. On the 19th July Srijut Rajkumar 
Shukla and Sant Raut, who had once been a clerk 
under a factory and Khendarprasad Rai were exa- 
mined on behalf of the tenants. There was no sitting 
of the Committee on the 20th. On the 21st July the 
proprietor and Manager of Malahia factory, Mr. W. J. 
Ross and Mr. H. Gale, the Manager of the Byreah 
factory gave their evidence. On the 23rd July Mr. 
C. Still, the Manager of Sathi factory and Mr. A. C. 
Ammon, the Manager of the Belwa factory, deposed 
before the Committee. The sixth sitting of the 
Committee was to take place at Motihari on the 25th 
July and Mahatmaji with his assistants accordingly 
came to Motihari on the night of the 23rd July. 

At Motihari, too, the crowd of tenants was as 
large as at Bettiah. The Committee met in the office 
of the District Board on the 25th July at 11 a.m. and 
examined Mr. W. B. Heycock, the Collector of Cham- 
paran, Mr. J. V. Jameson as the representative of the 
Planters' Association and Mr. E. H. Hudson, the 
Manager of the Rajpore factory. On the 26th July 


Mr. W. S. Irwin, the Manager of the Motihari factory 
whom the readers know already was examined. After 
Mr. Irwin's examination the members of the Com- 
mittee returned to Bettiah. The 27th of July was an 
off-day, and on the 28th the members of the Commit- 
tee visited and held local enquiry at the Parsa fac- 

It may be added here that no information used 
to be given to tenants about the visit of the Commit- 
tee to their villages so that the " agitator " might not 
get an opportunity, as alleged by the planters, of 
tutoring the people of the locality visited by the Com- 
mittee. The fact is there was nothing to tutor them 
about. In whichever direction the motor cars carry- 
ing the members turned a crowd collected and the 
moment they reached any particular factory, the 
news of their arrival spread with electric speed and 
thousands and thousands of tenants assembled in no 
time. The factory managers used to be informed be- 
forehand so that they might keep their papers, re- 
gisters etc. in readiness for inspection by the 
Committee. The Committee visited the Kuria factory 
and its villages on the 29th July. During these visits 
the papers of the factory used to be perused, state- 
ments of planters recorded and tenants examined. It 
is believed that what the members saw and heard 
during these tours made a deep impression on them. 

The Committee met at Bettiah on the 30th July 
and on that day Mr. P. Granville, the Manager of the 
Madhubani factory and Mr. W. W. Broucke, its pro- 
prietor, were examined. Some members of the Com- 
mittee visited some villages of Malahia factory and 
examined its papers. Similarly on the 21st local 


inspection was held in the villages of Dhokraha fac- 
tory. On the night of the 31st Mahatmaji with some 
of his assistants went to Motihari. The 1st of August 
was again an off-day and on the 2nd the Committee 
visited the Rajpore factory. Mr. Hudson, its Mana- 
ger, had informed his tenants of the visit, and about 
5 to 6 thousand of people had assembled there. On 
the 3rd of August the Peepra factory was inspected 
and 'on the 4th the Committee visited Turkaulia. At 
these factories too 3 to 4 thousand people were pre- 
sent. On the same day Mahatmaji saw Mr. Irwin at 
his factory and on the 5th he visited a village of his 
named Rajpur Chhitali, with his consent and return- 
ed to Bettiah by the afternoon train. On the 6th 
Rajghat Hardia factory was visited. On the 14th 
August, 1917 Mr. Jameson was again examined as 
the Manager of the Jalaha factory. No more evi- 
dence was recorded after this. Mahatmaji, however, 
placed before the Committee the statements of a 
number of tenants and a great many judgments of 
courts, which might throw light on the subject mat- 
ter of the enquiry. 

It may be stated here that in the days on which 
the Committee did not examine witnesses or visit 
villages, there used to be sessions of it for consider- 
ing the evidence already recorded. There were seve- 
ral sittings of this nature. What used to take place 
in those sittings is not known to outsiders ; but it 
became a matter of public knowledge later on, that 
to one of these sittings Mr. Hill of Turkaulia, 
Mr. Norman of Peepra and Mr. Irwin of Moti- 
hari were invited and an attempt was made to bring 
about an amicable settlement between them and their 
tenants regarding sharahbeshi (enhancement). 


It is also necessary to state here that Mahatmaji 
agreed to a reduction in sharahbeshi instead of 
demanding its total cancellation. There were many 
difficulties in the way of tenants. They had with 
their eyes open executed these enhancement agree- 
ments although it was under coercion. The burden 
of .proving that these agreements had been executed 
under fraud or coercion was on them. The Settle- 
ment Officer had held most of these agreements to 
be valid and the rent fixed by these agreements was 
entered in the record of rights. Under S. 103 of the 
Bengal Tenancy Act the Court is bound to presume 
the record of rights to be correct and the onus of 
showing that it was wrong was on the tenants. 
Although out of the nine test cases fought in Tur- 
kaulia five had been decided in favour of the tenants 
and only four in favour of the factory, these cases 
had cost a great deal and given much trouble to the 
tenants. On the one hand the factories were rich 
and powerful, their managers able and alert, their 
papers well kept and arranged ; on the other, the 
tenants were poor and weak and uneducated and 
they had hardly any papers. God alone knows what 
would have been the result of this unequal fight if it 
had to be decided in Court. But more than anything 
else, if suits had to be instituted to cancel these 
enhancement agreements, then about fifty thousand 
such suits would have to be brought. The cases 
which the planters would have lost would surely 
have been carried to the High Court. But what 
Mahatmaji felt most was that if this matter was not 
settled by the Committee and the tenants were dri- 
ven to the necessity of going to Court, then ill-feeling 
between the tenants and planters would rise to such 


a pitch that they would become implacable enemies. 
What he was anxious about was that the trouble of 
the tenants should disappear and friendship estab- 
lished between the two parties, and their relation 
should be such that each should wish well of the 
other. Both should have their rights and none any 
ill-will against the other. But how was all this to be 
achieved without an amicable settlement ? It was 
for these reasons that Mahatmaji and the members 
of the Committee were anxious that there should be 
a compromise. 

After several private meetings and Mr. Jame- 
son's examination on the 14th August, 1917, the work 
of the Committee for the time being came to a close 
and the next sitting was fixed to be held at Ranchi 
in September. The members of the Committee dis- 
persed to their respective places and Mahatmaji also 
started for Ahmedabad on the 16th August, 1917, 
leaving Babu Ramnavmiprasad and the writer in 
Champaran, the other members of Mahatmaji's party 
going home. 

On the 22nd September, Mahatmaji returned 
from Ahmedabad to Ranchi. Babu Brajakishoreprasad 
also went there. Soon after his arrival there Mahat- 
maji had an attack of malarial fever, but in spite of 
it he went on working in the Committee. There were 
several sittings of the Committee to settle the report 
and Mr. Irwin and some other planters were wired 
to go to Ranchi to settle the question of shar< hbeshi. 
After several days* discussion the members of the 
Committee signed a unanimous report on the 3rd of 
October and submitted it to the Government on the 
4th of October. After considering the report, the 
Government published their resolution on the 18th 


of October. It need only be stated here that the 
Government accepted almost all the recommenda- 
tions of the Committee. 

From Ranchi Mahatmaji returned to Cham- 
paran and stopped there till the 12th of October. 
Groups of tenants used to come to see Mahatmaji and 
to, enquire about the recommendations of the Com- 
mittee. Mahatmaji told them the principal points 
and they were satisfied. 

The students of Bihar had elected Mahatmaji as 
the President of the Biharee Students' Conference 
which was to be held at Bhagalpur on the 15th Octo- 
ber. Mahatmaji started from Motihari for Bhagalpur 
and went to Bombay from there. About this time 
Babu Janakdhariprasad, Vakil of Muzaffarpur, came 
and took charge of the office at Motihari and began 
to live there. 



It has already been mentioned above that the 
members of the Enquiry Committee had submitted 
their Report to the Government on the 4th October, 
1917, and the latter having accepted almost all the 
recommendations had published their Resolution on 
the 18th October, 1917. The following is the gist of 
the Committee's recommendations which were ac- 
cepted by the Government and which were published 
in their Resolution : 

(1) The tinkathia system, whether for growing indigo 
or any other crop, should be completely abolished. 


(2) If any agreement be executed for growing indigo 
it should be done on the following conditions : 

(a) The agreement should be voluntary. 

(b) Its term should not exceed 3 years. 

(c) The selection of field in which indigo is to 
be grown should rest with the ryots. 

(d) The rate of sale of indigo plants should be 
settled by the ryots according to their choice. 

(e) The price of indigo plants should be paid on 
weight. If the ryots agree, the plant instead of being 
weighed on a scale its weight may be appraised by 

(3) In Motihari and Peepra concerns the enhancement 
should be reduced by 26 p. c. and in Turkaulia concern 
by 20 p. c. 

(a) In Jalaha and Sirni factories the enhance- 
ment would be reduced as in Motihari and Peepra. 

(b) The tenants in whose record of right the 
tinkathia lafjnn has been mentioned will have to pay 
enhancement on their rent in accordance with the 
above proportion. 

(c) The Rajghat factory has not claimed any 
indigo lagan. The ryots of that factory have executed 
*' ttas for growing indigo on condition that no en- 
hancement would be made in their rental. Hence the 
factory did not apply for enhancement before the Set- 
tlement authorities. The ryots of that locality want 
to give up indigo now. Hence an opportunity should 
be given to the said concern to apply for enhancement. 

(4) The ryots who have paid to wan (either in cash 
or through hand-notes) to the factories will get back one 
fourth of it from them. In those villages which have been 
given in lease to the factory recently the entire amount 
of tawan would be returned to the ryots. The Bettiah 
Court of Wards will not realize the enhancement jama from 
them for a period of 7 years. 

(5) The realization of abwab is altogether illegal. In 
future the ryots should not pay any amount to the Zamin- 
dars in excess of what is entered in their khatian or Record 
of Rights. 


(6) It is illegal to realize any fee for mutation of 
name of an heir of a ryot. In other cases such fee should 
be realized on a fixed scale. The Board of Revenue would 
be informed that it should consider about fixing of such 
a scale for mutation in the Bettiah Raj and the mokarridars 
should also be f asked to realize fee on the same scale. 

(7) The charsa-mahal should be abolished in the Bet- 
tiah Raj, but no final orders should be issued in this con- 
nection till this matter is fully enquired into in the Ram- 
nagar Raj. 

(8) It is illegal to issue licence for selling kerosine 
oil and this system should be altogether abolished. 

(9) In the Bettiah Raj the tenants can purchase half, 
the share in timber on payment of proper price to the 
nfalik, but if in any elaka it may be apprehended that 
trees would be cut away (in large numbers) the Manager 
of the Bettiah Raj may limit the number of petitions of 
ryots in this respect. 

(10) The Zamindars, mokarridars and the lessees 
should be informed that they should keep sufficient parti 
and grazing grounds for cattle in their elaka. 

(11) It is illegal to impose and realize fines from the 
tenants. The ryots should be informed about it and the 
Zamindars, * okarridars and the lessees should be pro- 
hibited from realizing the same. 

(12) The term of a cart-satta should not exceed 5 
years and the agreement about it should be voluntary. 

(13) Labour should be voluntary. 

(14) In connection with the recommendation of the 
Committee about issuing receipt for payment of each feist 
or instalment of rent the Government would prescribe a 
form, if possible, for the same. 

(15) The District Board would be informed to keep 
direct management of the pounds as an experimental 
measure and not to lease them out to factories or other 
lessees. ' * 

It should be added that immediately on the publi- 
cation of the report and the Government Resolution 
thereon on the 18th October, 1917, a notice was 


distributed throughout the District on behalf of the 
Government containing for the information of the 
tenants, a summary of the recommendations of the 

This annoyed the planters very much and Mr. 
Irwin of Motihari raised a great hue and cry in the 
Press, which will be dealt with in detail hereafter. 
The Pratap, a Hindi newspaper of Cawnpore, had 
before Mahatma Gandhi's arrival in Champaran writ- 
ten a series of articles and had at one time issued 
a notice inviting all concerned to supply it with 
materials for a book on the grievances of the tenants 
of Champaran. In those days the policy of the Gov- 
ernment was altogether different and the distribution 
of the notice had been stopped by it. From the same 
Press a booklet which was a sort of a commentary 
on the Government notices was now issued under the 
title of Champaran ka Uddh>r and large numbers 
of its copies were sold in Champaran, carrying the 
news of their emancipation to almost every house. 
The planters complained that this booklet was being 
distributed on behalf of Mahatma Gandhi, but it was, 
of course, not true and Mahatmaji repudiated the 
charge. The result of all this was that there was 
hardly any place in the whole District where the re- 
commendations of the Committee were not known. 
The tenants could now fully realize that through the 
efforts of Mahatma Gandhi their evil days were over 
and they could now sleep soundly in their homes and 
they could now shout with a full throat, Mahatma 
Gandhi ki Jai. 


Even before the report of the Committee was 
published, Mr. 'irwin of the Motihari factory had 
managed to obtain information about its contents ; 
and on the 7th of October 1917 he wrote a long letter 
to the Englishman, and the Statesman which may be 
summarized as follows : 

" The Committee invited me and the Managers of 
Peepra and Turkaulia at Bettiah and advised us to 
enter into a compromise about sharahbeshi. I agreed to 
accept a reduction in the enhancement by 25 p. c. on the 
condition that the tatoan would be left untouched. I 
showed to them that by reducing the enhancement by 25 
p. c. there would be a loss of Rs. 13,000 in the annual 
income of my concern alone. But in spite of this Mr. 
Gandhi did not accept our terms and insisted on a reduc- 
tion of 40 p. c. There was a similar talk at Ranch! and 
after much higgling I agreed to reduce the sharahbeshi by 
2G p. c. but there was absolutely no talk about tawan. It 
now appears from the report of the Committee that 25 p. c. 
of tawan will have also to be refunded. The result is 
that I alone shall have to refund Rs. 80,000." 
He further stated : 

" That our representative signed a report of 'this sort 
is a matter which will have to be settled with him. But 
I hereby absolutely decline to submit to any treatment of 
this kind and I as publicly as possible now revoke, repu- 
diate and withdraw the concession of 25 p. c. of the 
sharahbeshi from the beginning of the coming year and 
will, if obliged to, spend this money in fighting this to a 

This letter of Mr. Irwin was published in the 
Statesman of the 21st and the Englishman of the 
22nd October. The Government criticized it very 



severely in its communique of the 23rd October and 
repudiated the charges made against the President 
and the members of the Committee. The Govern- 
ment note distinctly said : 

" The Lieut. -Governor-in-Council is enable to believe 
the allegations made by Mr. Irwin that the Committee 
obtained his consent to the reduction of sharabbeshi 
by leading him distinctly to understand that it (tawan) 
would not be interfered with." 

On the 24th of October Mr. Irwin published 
another letter in which he charged Mahatma Gandhi 
with having shown to the S. D. 0. of Bettiah a letter 
of the Lieutenant Governor, authorizing Mahatmaji 
to inform the tenants of the recommendations of the 
Committee. He further charged the Local Govern- 
ment with partiality for the tenants. It need hardly 
be stated that the charge against Mahatmaji was 
wholly unfounded as he had never shown any such 
letter to Mr. Lewis, and the Government was only 
doing its duty by the tenants. 

It may further be stated that Mr. Irwin had 
written in his first letter that Mr. Rainy, who was a 
member of the Committee, and who had formerly 
been a Collector of Champaran, as Collector advised 
the planters in the matter of tawan. This state- 
ment was reiterated by an anonymous planter, who 
wrote a letter to the Press under pseudonym of " Old 
Champaran ". He wanted to know from Mr. Rainy, 
how Mr. Rainy, having advised the realization of 
tawan, could sign a report recommending refund of 
part of the same. 

On the 25th of October Mr. Irwin returned to 
the charge and criticizing the Government note 
wrote as follows : 


" I would like to know if His Honour has made any 
enquiries from the only people in a position to say whether 
my allegation is true or not, viz. the managers of Turkaulia 
Ltd., and Peepra who, with Messrs. Rainy, Reid and myself, 
were the only persons present at the preliminary discus- 

On the 2nd of November, 1917, Mr. Jameson 
wrote a long letter to the Statesman, in which he 
severely criticized the proceedings of the Com- 
mittee and said that taivan had been realized with 
the consent of Mr. Rainy. He further said that as 
in 1909 after Mr. Gourlay's report Sir Edward Baker 
had held a private conference of the planters and 
settled the whole disputes by enhancing the price of 
indigo, so also if any changes or modifications were 
necessary, the Government ought to have quickly 
sent for the planters and settled the matter with 
them. But from the way in which the Government 
had acted in not stopping Mr. Gandhi's enquiry, it 
was evident that the Government did not want to do 
justice to the planters who had lost all confidence in 
it. He added, " The Government would have retain- 
ed the confidence of the planting community had it 
shown itself genuinely anxious to deal honestly with 
the whole question on its merits and to allay the un- 
rest caused by its mistaken policy." 

The Government for once wanted to do justice 
to the tenants and this was the result ! 

It is necessary to point out here that Mr. 
Ir win's statement regarding taw on was not correct 
and he was probably under a misapprehension. The 
Government held an enquiry into the matter. Mr. 
Norman, the Manager of the Peepra Factory, whom 
Mr. Irwin had mentioned in his letter wrote as 
follows on the 27th of October 1917 : 


"To the best of my recollections and it is my firm 
impression that the question of lawan was never men- 
tioned or referred to in any way at either of the two com- 
mittee meetings I have attended ; but personally I was under 
no misunderstanding about the Committee's idea regarding 
the refund of 25 p. c. as I was told they intended recom- 
mending this refund in a conversation at Bettiah just be- 
fore the Committee meeting there which Hill, Irwin and 
I attended. It is my impression that both Hill and Irwin 
were told the same as I was .... I wrote to Hill and Irwin 

when I was in Ranchi in August last I asked Mr. Sly 

if the tawan question would be any way influenced by 
what was settled over sharahbeshi and he informed me 
that tawan was an entirely different matter and whatever 
was settled regarding sharahbeshi would in no way affect 
their decision about tawan." 

Mr. Reid, who was the planters' representative 
on the Committee wrote on the 1st of November as 
follows : 

" I am extremely surprised to read Mr. Irwin's asser- 
tion that assurances were given that the 26 p. c. sharah- 
beshi reduction would not be applied to tawan. On the 
contrary I have the clearest recollection that when Mr. 
Irwin came to Bettiah, he himself asked me if anything 
had been decided about tawan showing that he under- 
stood that the consultation with the three planters only 
referred to sharuhbeshi. Moreover I told him that the 
Committee had decided to recommend a 25 p. c. refund of 
tawan. He strongly disapproved but finally said that he 
would prefer to pay the money to Raj and not to the ryots. 
I told him that the matter had been finally settled by the 
Committee and I could do nothing further. All this was at 
Bettiah. When he came to Ranchi the tawan question was 
never mentioned." 

Regarding the allegation made by Mr. Irwin, 
Mr. Jameson and an anonymous planter that Mr. 
Rainy had advised the realization of tawan the Gov- 
ernment held an enquiry and Mr. Rainy wrote in 


"It is not true that fawan was taken by him after 
consultation with me and on my advice. Had he said that 
it was taken with my knowledge and without interference 
from me, he would have been correct. He never asked 
for my advice nor did I advise him." 

He further wrote that whatever correspondence 
he had with the planters in this connection he for- 
warded to the Government atid communicated the 
Government reply to them. As a Collector he said 
he could not have done anything else and in his per- 
sonal capacity he offered no advice. It may also be 
stated here that on the 7th of November 1917, Mr. 
Irwin wrote a letter to the Statesman which was pub- 
lished in its issue of 14th of November 1917 in which 
he admitted that after enquiry from Messrs. Hill and 
Norman he had found that he was mistaken, re- 
garding tawan\ but that he had never agreed to a 
refund of tawan and that his agreement to the reduc- 
tion of sharahbeshi was subject to the condition that 
he would not have to refund taivan. 

The readers must have gathered some impres- 
sion regarding the uneasiness caused by the report 
among the planters. Many letters and articles were 
published in the Anglo-Indian Press against the re- 
commendations of the Committee and an anonymous 
writer, XYZ wrote to the Statesman on the 8th 
of November threatening that after the action which 
the Government had taken, no one would care to 
accept leases from the Bettiah Raj. One Mr. Kenneth 
Mackenzie who had at one time been a planter in 
Champaran wrote as follows from Darjeeling : 

"The Government of Bihar have employed the most 
unheared of methods to uproot respect for Bihar planters 
in ryots' minds by their insulting procedure of scattering 
broadcast pamphlets in the vernacular among an ignorant 


peasant population most unjustly putting planters in the 

" The action will have much more serious results than 
Sir E. Gait anticipates and he and his colleagues and the 
members of the so-called Commission should be held col- 
lectively and individually responsible *for any bloodshed 
that may ensue. Will the Bihar Government think for one 
moment that the planters will accept without question the 
arbitrary findings of the Commission ? Will the European 
Defence Association see this injustice done to a section of 
their own community ? I trow not." 

On the 12th of November Mr. J. M. Wilson, the 
Secretary of the Bihar Planters' Association sent to 
the Statesman for publication the opinion of the 
planters' legal adviser. It was published in its issue 
of the 18th November 1917. 

It may be summarized thus : 

"It is doubtful if the Bihar Government has got the 
power to take away the right about the tinkathi'i possessed 
by the planters. The contract which has been in existence 
can only be broken with the consent of both the parties. 
But without their consent the notice issued by the Govern- 
ment can have no effect. It is more than 3 years that 
tawan money was realized and the same cannot be realized 
through court. Hence to take them back from the planters 
and pay them to the ryots is equivalent to extortion." 

Someone under the nomdeplume of ' Solicitous ' 
wrote a letter on the 20th of November to the 
Statesman in which, commenting on the letter of Mr. 
Mackenzie, he advised the European Association to 
take action in the matter in ns much as what had 
happened to the planters of Champaran today might 
happen to the Englishmen elsewhere tomorrow. A 
similar letter from some Englishman was also pub- 
lished in the Statesman of 24th November in which 
he attacked Mahatma Gandhi, the Government of 
Bihar and the Committee and supported Mr. Irwin's 


opinion regarding tawan and praised the planters. 
One gentleman under the name of ' Ruat Caelum ' 
wrote the following letter which was published in 
the Statesman of 2nd December in which he gave a 
crushing reply to the various attacks made on the 
Committee : 

" If I have understood the writer of the article cor- 
rectly his position is that Status quo-ante- Gandhi in Cham- 
paran should be restored, because, (1) it pays the ryot to 
grow indigo, (2) the indigo planter is a good, considerate 
landlord, (3) all planters and their relatives of military 
age are fighting for the empire, (4) certain planters served 
Bettiah Raj many years ago. To take these in reverse 
order, most people acquainted with the facts who are not 
planters, would think regarding the fourth that the plant- 
ers in question got an ample quid pro quo. The third 
hardly appears to me apposite and the second would be 
generally admitted to be true, if a proviso is added " so 
long as such conduct does not interfere with his own in- 
terest ". Some would add the rider that the planter is bound 
to behave thus in his own interest. The real crux lies in the 
first. Either the taking of tawan was a highly discredit- 
able transaction in which the planter made use of his in- 
fluence and superior knowledge, to extract a large sum 
from the ryot for a release which was worth nothing, or it 
does not pay the ryot to grow indigo at the rate fixed 
by the Bihar Planters' Association. I have no doubt that 

the latter is the correct answer As for Sly Committee's 

recommendation with respect to la wan there must be 
many who were surprised at the moderation." 

It is the opinion of many persons that this letter 
was written by some high placed Englishman. While 
on one hand the planters and their supporters were 
thus carrying on an agitation in the Press, on the 
other, they were running down the tenants in various 
cases to bend them. The Government of Bihar in- 
troduced the Champaran Agrarian Bill into the Bihar 
Legislative Council on 29th November, 1917. 


On the 29th of November the Hon'ble Mr. Maude 
introduced the Champaran Agrarian Bill into the 
Legislative Council. On this occasion he delivered a 
remarkable speech. * In the course of it he gave a 
short history of the indigo trouble in Champaran 
during the last 50 or 60 years as detailed in the pre- 
vious chapters ; and he showed the justice of the 
action of the Government in adopting the recom- 
mendations of the Committee. It may be stated here 
that when the planters raised a clamour against the 
report of the Committee, the Hon'ble Mr. D. J. Reid, 
who till then represented the planters on the Legis- 
lative Council and who had signed the report as a 
member of the Committee, resigned his place on the 
Council and Mr. J. V. Jameson was appointed in his 
stead. The Government nominated Mr. P. Kennedy, 
the legal adviser of the planters, as a member of 
the Council. These two members criticized the in- 
troduction of the Bill very severely, but the criticism 
was more than met by the Hon'ble Mr. Maude in his 
reply and the Bill was published again in the Gov- 
ernment Gazettee on 20th February, 1918. The report 
of the Committee was placed before the Council for 
consideration on the 4th of March, 1918. Many Indian 
members moved amendments to improve the Bill 
from the tenants' point of view ; while Mr. Jameson 
and Mr. Kennedy also tried to have it amended from 
their point of view. But no important amendment 

' See Appendix A. 



was accepted by the Government. There was one 
matter however worth mentioning. The Bill as ori- 
ginally introduced, contained a provision that if a 
Government official was informed that a Zamindar 
realized abwab the former could proceed against the 
latter suo moto and if after the enquiry the fact was 
proved, he could punish the Zamindar. The Select 
Committee had deleted this section. The Hon'ble 
Mr. Tanner moved that it should be reinserted in the 
Bill. The Government, left its members free to vote 
as they liked. The result was that most of the non- 
official members and some official members voted 
against Mr. Tanner's amendment and it was rejected. 
Those who voted against it were of opinion that 
under the Bengal Tenancy Act, a Zamindar who rea- 
lized abwab, was liable to be punished on the com- 
plaint of a tenant and it was not necessary to have 
a new law for Champaran alone. The Bill was ulti- 
mately passed and became the Champaran Agrarian 
Act. Its principal provisions were as follows : 

(1) On and after the commencement of the Act any 
agreement, lease or other contract between a land-lord and 
a tenant holding under him which contains a condition to 
set apart the land of his tenancy or any portion thereof 
for the cultivation of a particular crop shall be void to the 
extent of such condition. 

Provided that if the tenant has in consideration of such 
condition received any advance prior to the commence- 
ment of this Act, he shall be bound to refund the same. 

(2) Where in consideration of the release of a tenant 
from a condition, the rent payable by such tenant, prior 
to the first day of October, 1917, has been enhanced, the 
amount of such enhancement shall, with effect from the 
said date be reduced by 20 per cent in the case of rent 
payable to Turkaulia Limited, and by 26 per cent in all 
other cases, and a note to that effect will be made in the 
record of rights. 


(3) Where a special condition or incident referred to 
above has been entered in the record of rights in respect 
of a tenancy, the same will be cancelled and the rent of 
the tenancy will be enhanced to an extent proportionate 
to the reduced enhancement mentioned above. 

(4) The Local Government will by rule prescribe the 
authority for making necessary amendments in the record 
of rights, whose decision shall be considered final. 

(5) Nothing in the Act shall prevent a tenant from 
contracting to deliver to his landlord a specified weight of 
a particular crop to be grown on the land of his tenancy 
or any portion thereof. 

Provided (i) that any claim for damages for breach 
of such contract shall be based on a failure to deli- 
ver the specified weight and not on a failure to cultivate 
any portion of land ; (ii) that the term of such con f ract 
shall not exceed 3 years. 

The most outstanding features of the Act 
were : 

(1) The abolition of tinknthia. 

(2) Reduction of sharahbeshi by 20 per cent in 
Turkaulia and 26 per cent in other factories. 

(3) The freedom of tenants' holdings from an obliga- 
tion to grow indigo and liberty to them to grow indigo 
on the voluntary basis if they liked ; and 

(4) Arrangement to prevent litigation in respect of 
the matters covered by the Act. 

The Committee had also recommended that 25 
per cent of the tawan realized by the factories 
should be refunded. The Government had accepted 
this recommendation. Accordingly the Bettiah Raj 
refunded Rs. 1,60,301-9-9 out of the tawan realized 
by 18 factories. It may be added here that no refund 
could be got in respect of villages that did not belong 
to the Bettiah Raj. In regard to one factory it is 
worth stating that its proprietor, after realizing the 
tawan, transferred it and it was considered unjust 
to force a refund from the new purchaser. After the 


passing of the Agrarian Act, the Pioneer, the mouth- 
piece of Anglo-Indians, severely criticized the action 
of the Government which had dared to do some justice 
to the long-suffering tenantry of Champaran. It 
wrote as follows : 

"We regret to find in those steps the worst of the 
faults that can be attributed to the bureaucracy. Infirmity 
of purpose is the key-note throughout and it manifests 
itself in the usual symptoms ; a purposeless insistence for 
as long as possible on secretariat secrecy and a refusal of 
requests for discussion when constitutionally put forward 
followed by a prompt acceptance of the same request when 
the party making them shows a disposition and ability to 
make things unpleasant for the secretariat ; professed reli- 
ance on the opinion of local officers so long as that 
profession serves as an excuse for secrecy and delay, 
followed by abandonment of those opinions when they 
are found to be inconvenient ; a too obvious desire to 
evade for as long as possible grasping the nettle of a con- 
troversial subject with the inevitable risk of injustice 
resulting according to the power of one side or the other 
to put pressure on Government." (Pioneer, March 13, 

It was natural that the Anglo-Indian Press 
should write like this. But every fair-minded person 
will admit that it was the first attempt on the part 
of the Government to redress the long-standing 
grievances of the tenants and even to this the hands 
of the Government were forced by a world-renowned 
reformer like Mahatma Gandhi. The so-called self- 
created rights of the planters were no doubt affected 
and their henchmen in the Anglo-Indian Press un- 
doubtedly felt sore about the matter, but the effect 
of the Act, so far as the ordinary people were con- 
sidered, was all for the good and after a long long 
waiting the burden on the oppressed tenants was for 
the first time lightened to a certain extent. 


It was the opinion of Mahatma Gandhi that one 
of the main reasons of the suii'erings of the tenants 
of Champaran was their ignorance. He was con- 
vinced from the very beginning that it was impossi- 
ble for any outside agency^ to improve their lot unless 
their mental and moral condition was improved. This 
applies to the whole of India, but it can be demon- 
strated beyond contradiction in Champaran. The 
tenantry is altogether helpless. It is weak and there 
is gross ignorance. Mahatmaji had therefore made 
up his mind at an early stage of his mission that even 
if he succeeded in securing some relief for the ryots 
they would not be able to get the full benefit of it 
and they would become subject to fresh bonds. It 
has already been observed that since the advent of 
Mahatma Gandhi a peculiar -sense of freedom and 
fearlessness was visible among the tenants of Cham- 
paran. But whether this was only a passing phase 
or a permanent acquisition by them could not be said 
for certain. Their mode of living also requires a 
great change. Dirt in the villages, dirt on the roads, 
dirt everywhere. The villagers have lost the *ordi- 
nary capacity for organized work and cannot, by 
their combined action, repair a small village path- 
way. On the advent of any epidemic disease they 
fall victims to it, there being none to help them or 
protect them and there being no arrangement for 
their treatment. When there is no arrangement for 
sanitation, what arrangement could one expect 



regarding medical relief ? Mahatmaji had accordingly 
decided that arrangement for spread of education 
was as necessary among them as the redress of their 
grievances. Sometime before the Enquiry Committee 
commenced its work Mahatmaji had written to some 
friends about it knd told them what sort of volunteers 
he needed for this social work. He had written to 
a friend : 

" Their (volunteers') work will be the most 
important and lasting and therefore it will be the 
final essential stage of the mission. They (volun- 
teers) have to be grown up, reliable, hardworking 
men who would not mind taking the spade and 
repairing and making village roads and cleaning 
village cess pools and who will, in their dealings 
with their landlords, guide the ryots aright. Six 
months of such training cannot fail to do incal- 
culable good to the ryots, the workers and the 
country at large/' 

After the Committee had tnade its report, Mahat- 
maji found time to attend to this part of the work 
and on the 8th of November, 1917, he came to ChW- 
paran from Bombay with some volunteers. It was 
his wish that in this social work he should get the 
help of planters and that in the villages of almost 
every factory he should open one or more schools. 
But alas ! this wish could not be fulfilled. He decid- 
ed that if the planters would not give him lands in 
their villages, he should open these schools in inde- 
pendent places. At a distance of about 20 miles to 
the east of Motihari there is a place called Barharwa 
Lakhansen which is a village of the* Bettiah Raj 
and free from the control of any factory. It was 


decided to open a school there. A generous gentle- 
man of the village Babii Shivgulamlal gave his house 
for the school and promised other help. There on 
the 13th of November, 1917, Mahatma Gandhi open- 
ed his first school in Champaran. The school was 
put in charge of Shriyut Baban Gokhale, his cultured 
wife Shrimati Awantikabai Gokhale and Mahat- 
maji's youngest son, Shriyut Devadas Gandhi. Some 
time later Shriyut Chhotelal and Shriyut Surendraji 
came from Satyagraha Ashram, Sabarmati, and stay- 
ed at Barharwa. Mr. Baban Gokhale is a distinguish- 
ed engineer of Bombay, who had received his 
education and training in Europe and Shrimati 
Awantikabai had travelled in Europe and before 
coming to Champaran she was engaged in the work 
of education in Bombay and has been doing the same 
kind of work after her return from Champaran. 

Another school was opened by Mahatmaji on 
the 20th of November in a village called Bhitharwa. 
This village is situated in the Nepal Tarai about forty 
miles north-west of Bettiah. At a short distance from 
this village is the Belwa factory of which Mr. A. C. 
Ammon was the Manager. There is a small temple 
in the village in which a sadhu used to live. The 
temple has some lakherai (rent-free land). The 
sadhu gave a portion of that land for the school 
which was opened in a straw hut erected for the pur- 
pose. Shriyut Sadasiva Lakshman Soman, B.A., 
LL.B., a vakil of Belgaum in the Bombay Presidency, 
an enthusiastic young man from Gujarat, Shriyut 
Balakrishna Yogeshwar Purohit, Shrimati Kastur- 
bai Gandhi and Dr. Dev began to live there. 

With the help of Seth Ghanashyamdas, a wealthy 
merchant, a school was opened on the 17th of January, 


1918, at Madhuban in the Seth's house. Shriyut 
Narahari Dwarkadas Parikh, B. A., LL. B., a resident 
of Gujarat and Professor of the Satyagraha Ashram, 
Sabarmati, his wife Shrimati Manibai Parikh, 
Mahatmaji's Secretary, Shriyut Mah^dev Haribhai 
Desai, B.A., LL.B., his wife Shrimati Durgabai, 
Shrimati Anandibai, the sister of Shriyut Divekar, 
the Registrar of the Women's University of Poona, 
began to live there. For some time Shriyut Vishnu 
Seetaram Randive alias Appaji and Professor Kri- 
palani also worked here. Professor Kripalani had 
to undergo imprisonment in Champaran, which of 
course he gladly accepted. 

It is a matter of regret and shame for the people 
of Bihar that while highly educated and respectable 
people of the class mentioned above from other pro- 
vinces volunteered their services, for some time not 
one man was found in the whole province to take up 
this social work. Babu Dharnidhar, M.A., B.L., had the 
good fortune of accompanying Mahatmaji from 
Muzaffarpur to Motihari when Mahatma Gandhi set 
his foot for the first time on the soil of Champaran. 
To him also came the privilege of assisting in the 
completion of Mahatmaji's work by six months* stay 
with his wife and children imparting education in 
the school at Madhuban. Besides the ladies and 
gentlemen mentioned above, other volunteers joined 
later on and served in one or another of the schools. 
They were Shriyut Brajlal Bhimji Rupani of Satya- 
graha Ashram, Shriyut Pranlal Prabhuram Yogi 
from Kathiawad, Shriyut Ramaraksha Brahmchari 
and Babu Shyamdeva Sahi alias Dipaji of Saran and 
some paid teachers were also engaged from time to 
time. The objects and ideals and the method of 


education imparted in these pathashalas were describ- 
ed as follows by Mahatmaji in a letter to a Govern- 
ment official : 

" In the schools I am opening, children under 
the age of 12 only are admitted. The idea is to 
get hold of as many children as possible and to 
give them an all round education, i. e. a good 
knowledge of Hindi or Urdu and, through that 
medium, of arithmetic and rudiments of history 
and geography, a knowledge of simple scientific 
principles and some industrial training. No cut 
and dried syllabus has yet been prepared because 
I am going on an unbeaten track. I look upon our 
present system with horror and distrust. Instead 
of developing the moral and mental faculties of the 
little children it dwarfs them. In my experiment 
whilst I shall draw upon what is good in it, I shall 
endeavour to avoid the defects of the present sys- 
tem. The chief thing aimed at is contact of children 
with men and women of culture and un-impeach- 
able moral character. That to me is education. 
Literary training is to be used merely as a means 
to that end. The industrial training is to be design- 
ed for the boys and 4 the girls who may come to us 
for an additional means of livelihood. It is not 
intended that on completing their education they 
should leave their hereditary occupation but make 
use of the knowledge acquired in the school to re- 
fine agriculture and agricultural life. Our teachers 
will also touch the lives of grown up people and, 
if at all possible, penetrate the purdah. Instruction 
will be given to grown up people in hygiene and 
about the advantages of joint action, for the pro- 
motion of communal welfare, such as, the making 


of village roads proper, the sinking of wells etc. 
And as no school will be manned by teachers who 
are not men or women of good training, we pro- 
pose to give free medical aid so far as is possible." 
In accordance with these principles education 
was given to about 140 children at the Barharwa 
pathashala under Mr. Gokhale and Mrs. Gokhale 
began to educate about 40 girls and women. In this 
pathashala weaving also was taught and people there 
trained in the art of corporate action by making them 
keep their wells and village roads clean. Mr. Gokhale 
and Mrs. Awantikabai would themselves clean the 
village which naturally produced a great impression 
on the minds of the inhabitants. Women used to be 
trained now to keep their children clean and well. 
This pathashala still exists. The Bhitharwa patha- 
shala is situate in a locality where complete igno- 
rance reigns. The climate is bad. The number of 
children for these reasons never exceeded 40 ; but 
Dr. Dev created very good impression among the 
people by teaching others sanitary modes of living. 
Shortly after the establishment of the school, one 
night at about midnight the school huts caught fire 
and were reduced to ashes. Dr. Dev, Shriyut 
Somanji, Shriyut Appaji and Shrimati Gandhi were 
staying there at the time. The school was at a dis- 
tance from the village and so the village people could 
render no assistance. It was the considered opinion 
of Dr. Dev that the fire was due to an act of incendia- 
rism. But instead of wasting time in inquiring into 
the cause of the fire, Dr. Dev, Mr. Somanji and 
Appaji decided to erect a brick building in place of 
the burnt straw hut ; and in no time did they suc- 
ceed in erecting it, carrying bricks on their own 


heads and doing the work of coolies. This building 
still exists. 

After the departure of the first batch two volun- 
teers from Maharashtra, named Narayan Tammaji 
Katagade alias Pundalik and Eknath Vasudeva 
Kshire came to Champaran and began to work at the 
Bhitharwa pathashala with singular boldness. Pun- 
dalikji's presence proved too much for the Govern- 
ment and after a short time he was ordered under 
the Defence of India Act to go out of the Province. 
After Pundalikji's departure his place was taken by 
another Maharashtra volunteer, Shriyut Shankarrao 
Dev, B.A., who remained there for several months. 

The Madhuban pathashala was also very success- 
ful and had about 100 boys: A girl's pathashala was 
opened there in which some 40 girls received educa- 
tion under Shrimati Anandibai. After the depar- 
ture of the first batch from Madhuban, Shriyut Kshire 
and Shriyut Shyamdev Narayan worked there for 
several months. The entire cost of this pathashala 
was practically borne by Seth Ghanashyamdas. It is 
to be regretted, however, that this pathashala is 

As stated above, education was given in these 
pathashalas in Hindi and Urdu. Mahatmaji himself 
used to visit them from time to time and suggest im- 
provements in them. Dr. Dev used to supervise the 
pathashalas, deliver lectures on sanitation and 
cleanliness and treat sick people. Although the 
volunteers of the first batch remained in Champaran 
for six months only their influence was not confined 
to the pathashalas only, but as was expected by 
Mahatmaji all the people of the locality were touched 
and even purdah ladies did not remain altogether 


unaffected. If this work had been continued for 
some time, then not only Champaran but the other 
districts of Bihar would have undergone a great 
change for the better. 

From what has been said above it should noi be 
presumed that Mahatma Gandhi commenced his work 
of education only after the report of th Enquiry 
Committee. For those who were capable of taking 
lessons he had started his work of education the day 
he set his foot in Champaran. He showed a new 
world to those who had the privilege of serving under 
him. He gave them a new life. Whenever we used 
to talk to him about Swaraj he used to say that he 
was doing the work of Swaraj. We could not, I con- 
fess, realize at the time the full significance of what 
he said ; but today when the immediate work in hand 
in Champaran has been. finished, it may truly be said 
that it was the real work of Swaraj. When Mahat- 
maji, on his way to Champaran, had visited a village 
near Muzaflfarpur and seen the condition of the 
people and the children there, he had exclaimed 
" We can get Swaraj only when we improve the lot 
of these people ! " He had proceeded to Champaran 
to improve the lot of those people. It was his 
opinion that his great work required a large number 
of volunteers and it was desirable to get as many 
men and women as possible ; but every one was not 
fit for this work. For this kind of service they alone 
were fit who had accepted Truth, cast out fear- and 
adopted poverty. Mahatmaji accordingly attracted 
his assistants towards these noble ideals. When we 
first reached Champaran many of us had servants, 
we had a cook also. Within a short time the number 
of servants was reduced and shortly afterwards there 


was one servant left. The result was that those who 
had not in all their lives drawn one potful of water 
out of a well or washed a small napkin began tinder 
the Mahatma's influence within a short time to help 
each other in bathing, washing clothes and cleaning 
utensils. In fact we used to do everything ourselves. 
To sweep ihe rooms and floor, to clean the kitchen, 
to wash our own utensils, to carry luggage and other 
bundles from the station and the market these and 
such other things we all used to do and without hesi- 
tation. After the removal of the cook Shrimati 
Gandhi used to cook food for all of us and used to 
feed us all with motherly affection. It was one of 
the results of Mahatmaji's visit that we ceased to 
look upon travelling in a third class compartment as 
a matter of indignity. His simple nature, Swadeshi 
dress and great sacrifice wrought a tremendous 
change in the lives not only of those who had the 
privilege of working under him, but also many other 
persons in the province. After his return from 
South Africa this was the first great work in India 
to which he had set his hand and through God's 
grace by achieving success, he was able to show his 
countrymen a new path which would enable them to 
attain whatever goal they may have before them. 

So ended the great struggle in Champaran. It 
is difficult to fully and correctly estimate the effect 
of Mahatma Gandhi's stay in Champaran. The time 
has not yet come to write the history of his achieve- 
ments. The seed which he sowed in Champaran, 
nay in India, has sprouted, but is yet a sapling ; it 
will take time to blossom into flower and bear fruit. 
But if from the greenness of the sapling any esti- 
mate can be formed of the sweetness of the fruit to 


be, then it will have to be said, in all gratefulness, 
that in no distant future new life, new thoughts, new 
aspirations and a new age are going to dawn. The 
seed of Indian Swaraj has been truly sown in 
Champaran and the freedom which the poor, helpless 
downtrodden tenants of Champaran have secured 
against the educated, ever vigilent and wealthy 
planters, living under the protecting wings of the 
powreful Government, is but a precursor of that 
larger freedom which Indians, trampled under the 
heels for centuries, are going to achieve in their 
struggle for Swaraj. May God hasten that day ! 



The Hon'ble Mr. Maude moved for leave to in- 
troduce the Champaran Agrarian Bill, 1917. 

He said : 

" Your Honour, 

" I rise to move for leave to introduce into Council a Bill 
the objects of which have been described in the preamble as 
firstly, the settlement and determination of certain disputes 
which have arisen in the district of Champaran between land- 
lords and tenants regarding certain obligations of the said 
tenants, and, secondly, to establish a system of penalties for 
the taking of abwab similar to the penalties which, under sec- 
tion 58 of the Bengal Tenancy Act, can be imposed upon a 
landlord who refuses or neglects to give a legal receipt for 
rent ; and before I attempt to explain to the Council the nature 
of the obligations with which the Bill deals, and the method 
of dealing with them, I would ask for the forbearance of 
Hon'ble Members while I refer as briefly as possible to some 
of the more recent stages of the past history of the relations 
between the indigo-planting community and the cultivators of 
Tirhut and especially of Champaran. 

" The conditions under which indigo ha.s been grown has 
fceen repeatedly under the notice of Government for nearly sixty 
years past commencing from the time when disputes in Lower 
Bengal led to the appointment of the Indigo Commission, as a 
result of which indigo rapidly disappeared in Bengal proper. 
In that enquiry the conditions in Tirhut were more or less a 
side issue, indeed they were in some ways admitted to be an 
improvement on the Bengal system, notably in the matter of 
advances which could not accumulate against a raiyat In such 
a way as to keep him in perpetual debt to the factory ; but it 
is astonishing how even in those early times the causes of 
complaint *were much the same as have constantly cropped up 



since and have but now forced themselves once more upon the 
Committee whose recent enquiries have led to the framing of 
this Bill. We find the same complaint that land is cultivated 
at a loss by the raiyat, that there is no gurantee against agree- 
ments being taken under compulsion, that theraiyat is deprived 
of the use of his best land, and that factory servants are fre- 
quently oppressive and extortionate. These were the causes 
which led to the Indigo Commission in Bengal in 1860, and we 
find them repeated in a memorandum by the Commissioner of 
Tirhut in 1867, when trouble first began to show itself in the 
Champaran district. Indigo, it was said, required much labour 
and trouble and led to harassment by the factory servants, and 
it did not pay as compared with other crops, but the raiyat 
could not keep away from it, partly because he could not resist 
the undertaking that his rent would not be enhanced so long 
as he grew indigo, partly because he could not resist the temp- 
tation of an advance, and partly because various methods of 
persuasion were forthcoming to induce him to sign on. That 
trouble occurred, as I have said, in 1867, and it originated 
in Lalsaraya factory, the bungalow of which was burnt down* 
though whether by accident or by arson it is not possible to- 
say. The trouble spread rapidly, but having Attracted the at- 
tention of the local officers and of Government was settled for 
the time being on the recommendation of the Commissioner 
by an enhancement of the rates paid for indigo from rates 
varying from about Rs. 5 to Rs. 6 per bigha to a rate averaging 
about Rs. 7-15-0 per bigha of 6J cubits laggi. The matter was 
duly reported to the Government of India, and in making the 
report the Local Government said that the time had passed 
when it could be hoped to carry on an indigo concern profitably 
by forcing on the raiyats a cultivation and labour which is 
to them unprofitable; the necessity of giving an adequate re- 
muneration had been recognized by the planters although they 
had too long refused to recognize the necessity of making such 
an advance in price, but the managers of concerns now savr 
clearly the danger which they had so narrowly escaped, ' and 
would, hi their own interest, be careful to~guard against falling- 
into such ah -error again. Government did not, therefore, wish 
to take any further steps. The Government of India accepted 
the Local Government's recommendation, but expressed the 
significant fear (I am speaking now of events which occurred 


no less than fifty years ago) that the evils of the system were 
so great that the interposition of Government might become 
unavoidable, unless measures were taken to remove such ele- 
ments of the system as were unjust and oppressive. 

" The increase in the rate per btgha paid for indigo appears 
to have smoothed matters down for a short time, but com- 
plaints constantly arose as to the objectionable nature of the 
whole system of asamiwar indigo and as , early as 1871 in 
reviewing the Annual Administration Report of the Commis- 
sioner of the Patna Division, the Lieutenant-Governor re- 
marked again on the practice under which raiyats are com- 
pelled to give up a portion of their land as presenting a com- 
pulsory feature contrary to free-trade principles, it being ob- 
vious that no person of power and influence equal to that 
of the planter himself would think as a matter of business 
of entering into such an agreement. Complaints continued up 
to 1875, when the Commissioner of Patna suggested an Indigo 
Commission to enquire into the whole question, but the sug- 
gestion was put aside as likely to cause considerable dsiturb- 
ance, and on the ground that there was no general manifestation 
of widespread discontent such as to render a Commission 
necessary. Government contented itself with a review of the 
existing law and a warning to Magistrates to administer the 
law vigorously and impartially. 

"In 1877 the position was again reviewed chiefly with 
reference to the Muzafifarpur district and the then Commis- 
sioner, Mr. Stuart Bayley, wrote that although he concurred 
in Sir Richard Temple's opinion that a Commission was not 
necessary, yet the fact remained that there was much discon- 
tent manifest enough to local officers. Attention was again 
called to the unfairness of the asamiwar system of cultivation 
and to various other abuses, such as the thikadari system under 
which whole villages were leased from the zamindar, a want 
of regard to occupancy-rights and the practice of changing 
good lands for bad which apparently then prevailed in 
Muzaffarpur. The result was the formation of the Bihar 
Planters' Association in 1878 by which a set of rules were 
drawn up, the chief innovation being a further rise in the 
price per bigha paid for indigo, which was now advanced from 
Rs. 7-15-0 to Rs. 9 in addition to the proportionate rent for 
the land under indigo. 


" Thenceforth for some years the relations between the 
planters and raiyats seem to have improved and all continued 
smooth on the surface until the year 1908, when the disturb- 
ances broke out in Bettiah which eventually led to the enquiry 
by Mr. Gourlay, a former Sub-divisional Officer of Bettiah. The 
result of that enquiry was a re-statement of all the old grievan- 
ces which had figured in all previous enquiries. Mr. Gourlay 
found that the cultivation of indigo on the asamtwar system 
did not pay the raiyat, that the raiyat had to give up his best 
lands for indigo, that the cultivation required labour which 
could be employed more profitably elsewhere, and generally, 
that the system was irksome and led to oppression by the 
factory servants. The main upshot of this import was a further 
rise in the price of indigo by an average of 12 per cent, a 
reduction by the Association of the indigo lands, commonly 
known as the indigo lagan, from 3 kathas per bigha to 2 
katfias, and the prohibition of entering into a contract under 
the satta system to grow any crop other than indigo. 

" For a time these concessions seemed to have met the 
needs of the case and things remained quiet. Owing to the 
competition of synthetic indigo the value of the natural dye 
had much declined and the necessity of keeping up indigo had 
declined with the reduction in profits. Certain of the concerns 
seeing that there was no longer any profit to be made out of 
indigo and that the agreements by which the raiyats were 
bound to cultivate indigo on three selected kathas out of each 
bigha of their holdings were of no use to them, proceeded to 
levy yearly a certain amount from the raiyats as a condition 
of letting them off the cultivation of indigo. This was known 
as hunda and it had in fact been levied as early as 1905, that 
is to say, before the Gourlay enquiry. The demand was resisted 
in some cases, and the matter was consequently reported to 
the Board of Revenue, and it was held that the levy of hunda 
must cease, though compensation might be taken in cases 
where the factory still bona fide wanted the indigo contract 
fulfilled but th*e raiyat wilfully or negligently failed to carry 
it out. 

" The next phase was the initiation of what has now come 
to be known as sharahbeM. Being precluded from taking 
yearly hunda from the raiyats as an equivalent for being let 
off the cultivation of indigo, the Motihari concern announced 


its desire in 1912 to commute the obligation altogether in the 
mukerrari villages taking instead an enhancement, of the rent, 
which, it was said was exceptionally low, having been exempt- 
ed from enhancement in consideration of the undertaking or 
customary obligation to grow indigo. The Manager asked the 
Board through the local officers whether the legality of such 
action was admitted, but the Board held that the existence 
of an obligation to grow indigo as an incidence of the Tenancy, 
which alone could make any enhancement of over two annas 
per rupee legal under the Bengal Tenancy Act, was a question 
of fact as to which they could not express any opinion. There- 
after the practice of commuting the indigo obligation in the 
form of sharahbeshi was regularly adopted both in the Moti- 
hari concern and in others of the chief concerns in Cham- 

" So far with regard to mukarrari villages. But in the 
temporarily-leased villages it became expedient to find sdfme 
other form of commuting the indigo obligation because, when 
the lease expired, the increase in rent would mainly go to the 
landlord, i.e., to the Bettiah Raj* and only a small proportion 
to the lessee or thikadar, supposing the lease to be renewed. 
The result was the taking in the temporarily-leased village of 
what is now generally known as tawan or a lump sum paid 
by the raiyat in perpetual liquidation of the obligation to grow 

" I shall refer to sharahbeshi and tawan more particularly 
later on, in connection with the recommendations of the Com- 
mittee and the provisions of the Bill. I only mention them 
now as recent phases in the history of indigo cultivation in the 
district, phases which, it will be remarked, are intimately con- 
nected with and in fact* the immediaet outcome of the system 
of ttnkathia or the compulsory growing of indigo (as the result 
either of a contract or of an obligation incident to the tenancy) 
on a fixed proportion but by no means a fixed part, of the 
raiyaVs holding. 

"The last stage of the history commences from the year 
1912-13 when a number of petitions were filed containing 
various complaints regarding compulsion in the execution of 
indigo sattat, levy of painkharach and other abwabs and fines, 
the forcible taking of ploughs and labour without payment, and 
so forth. The petitions were sent to the Settlement Officer for 


report, the revision settlement having by that time commenced 
in the district. Subsequently a fresh lot of petitions was re* 
ceived from the northern part of the district where indigo was 
not grown to any appreciable extent, the complaints being 
mainly about the levy of abwab and fines. These also were 
sent for report to the Settlement Officer. The enquiries in- 
volved took a considerable time, and the general result was 
that the first batch of petitions were found to be for the most 
part groundless, but that serious abuses in the nature of ex- 
actions of abwab, which practically doubled the legal rent, were 
found to be prevalent throughout the north of the district 
both in the Ramnagar Estate 'and in the Bettiah Raj villages 
which were in lease to several Mkadars. These latter were 
at once told that the renewal of their leases would be condi- 
tional on the entire stoppage of the collection of abwab, and 
later on steps were taken to obtain control in the Ramnagar 
Estate by declaring under the Court of Wards Act the lady, 
in whose possession the estate was, to be incompetent of 
management and by assuming management. 

" This was the state of affairs when Mr. Gandhi was in- 
duced to visit the district and the presence and actions of 
himself and his assistants created a tension which rendered it 
necessary to appoint the Committee of Enquiry which has 
recently finished its work and the recommendations of which 
have resulted in the Bill which I am now laying before the 
Council. The report of the Committee has been published with 
Government's Resolution thereon and they are fresh in your 
memories and I need not summarize them at this point. 

" I have gone at what I am afraid is rather wearisome 
length into the past history of what may be perhaps best 
described as the indigo difficulty, because it is constantly as- 
serted, and I have myself often heard it said, that there is in 
reality nothing wrong or rotten in the state of affairs, that 
everyone concerned is perfectly happy so long as he is Jeft 
alone, and that it is only when outside influences and agitators 
come in that any trouble is experienced. I submit that this 
contention is altogether untenable in the light of the history 
of the past fifty years of which I have endeavoured to present 
to the Council a brief sketch. What is it we find on each 
individual occasion when fresh attention has been, at remark* 
ably short intervals, drawn once more to the conditions of the 


production of the indigo plant ? We do not find on each occa- 
sion that some fresh little matter has gone wrong which can 
be easily adjusted, but we find on every occasion alike that it 
is the system itself which is condemned as being inherently 
wrong and impossible, and we see also repeated time after 
time the utter futility of bringing the matter to any lasting or 
satisfactory settlement by the only solutions that have so far 
been attempted, namely, an enhancement of the price paid for 
Indigo and a reduction of the tenant's burden by reducing the 
limit of the proportion of his land which he would be required 
to earmark for indigo cultivation. Repeatedly these expedients 
have been 'tried repeatedly the"y have failed to effect a lasting 
solution, partly because they could not be universally enforced 
but chiefly because no tinkering can set right a system which 
is in itself inherently rotten and open to abuse. And in this 
connection I would pay a tribute to the Bihar Planters' Asso- 
ciation which has honestly and at all times done its best to 
put things right and do what appeared to be just and called for. 
But the Association is not omnipotent it can only control 
its own members and it cannot force into its fold those who in 
order to evade its rules or for other reasons choose to remain 
outside. Nor have the tools at its command been efficient. As 
an association of persons whose own interests were involved 
it could scarcely strike at the real root of the evils and it could 
therefore only employ temporizing methods which could result 
in no permanent settlement. Government alone, and that only 
by legislation, can kill the real root of the disease, and I con- 
tend that history for fifty years and more has been building 
up a case for drastic action by Government and that the find- 
ings of the recent Committee, findings which I need not set 
forth at length because they have merely repeated once more 
what has been found time after time before, have merely set 
the keystone on the case for interference. 

. " Now the root of the evil is the tinkathia system under 
which the raiyat is bound either by a contract or as an incident 
of his tenure to cultivate indigo in a proportion of his land to 
be selected each year by the factory. It is this obligation 
which clause 3 of the Bill is intended to abolish once and for 
all in the Champaran district. The abolition applies not only 
to cases where the tinkathia is dependent on an Incident of 
the tenancy, but also to cases where it is dependent on a mere 


civil contract between the factory and the raiyat and we have 
heard a good deal in certain papers about the iniquity and 
illegality of putting a sudden end to contracts which have been 
already entered into. As to the legal aspect I can only say 
that I am not aware, and as the Government of India have 
sanctioned the introduction of this Bill, they also are apparent- 
ly not aware, of any legal constitutional bar to an enactment 
being passed which will have the effect of closing down exist- 
ing contracts, should it be deemed necessary to do so in the 
pursuit of justice and. good administration. Put baldly and 
without adequate explanation, it certainly sounds an extreme 
measure to bar existing contracts, however doubtful they 
might be but the circumstances in this case are peculiar the 
fact being that in the vast majority of cases the indigo obliga- 
tion has already Ijeen commuted on the initiative of the plant- 
ers themselves in the shape either of sharahb<shi or of tawan, 
while in cases where it is based on an incident of the tenancy, 
it will now under clause 4 of the Bill be commuted by way of 
sharahbeshi. The Bill also provides for the proportionate re- 
turn of advances where such have been taken and have not 
been already fully worked off. The iniquity of the termination 
of the contracts disappears therefore in the light of the com- 
pensation which has already been taken in most cases and in 
other cases will be taken, and the practical effect of the clause 
will merely be to prevent any revival of the tinkathia system 
in the future, a provision the necessity of which has, as I have 
already shown been amply demonstrated. It will be observed 
that the abolition and prohibition of the contracts referred to 
in this clause of the Bill is not confined to indigo but covers 
the case of any other kind of crop also. This has been done 
deliberately because it has been found in some cases that cer- 
tain concerns, when the growing and manufacturing of indigo 
became no longer lucrative, attempted to create a liability on 
the part of their tenants to grow for the Factory some other 
specified crop in place of indigo, a procedure which of course 
led to a state of things just as objectionable as it was before 
when the tenant was only bound to grow indigo. 

" I now come to clause 4 (I) (a) of the Bill and I am 
afraid that I am here beginning to enter upon delicate ground. 
The clause lays down that where an enhancement of rent 
has been taken in lieu of the obligation to grow a particular 


crop, the enhancement, that is, the additional rent added by 
the enhancement, shall be reduced by a certain specified pro- 
portion, viz., 20 per cent in the case of the Turkaulia concern 
and 26 per cent in the case of other concerns. This peculiar 
provision appears to the observer, and in fact is, entirely arbi- 
trary, and some explanation of it is necessary. It was the 
outcome of pure compromise. The members of the Committee 
unanimously considered that the enhancements which had 
been taken by the five concerns, which alone took sharahbeshi, 
were excessive, representing as they did anything from 50 to 
75 per cent on the previously existing rental. It was not over- 
looked that the rents were previously very low and had been 
allowed to remain so in consideration of the indigo liability, 
but even when due allowance was made for this, a sudden 
enhancement of from 50 to 75 per cent w^s admitted to be 
excessive ; and as there was no exact standard that could be 
utilized, the amount to be reduced was, after much discussion, 
fixed by agreement with the principal factories concerned. The 
delicacy of the situation, to which I have referred, arises from 
the fact that the manager of one of those principal factories 
has since thought fit to repudiate the agreement in the public 
press on the ground that he had been led to believe that the 
Committee were not going to interfere in any way with the 
sums which have been taken as tawan or lump compensation 
for the abandonment of the indigo obligation in the tempo- 
rarily-leased villages of the Bettiah Raj in which sharahbeshi 
could not be, or was not taken. It was not the function of 
Government to enter into a controversy in the public press, 
but I take this opportunity of stating emphatically before this 
Council that Government are in possession of information 
which fully entitles them to disregard that repudiation as 
wholly unjustified by the actual facts, and they have accord- 
ingly framed this clause of the Bill in accordance with the 
unanimous recommendation of the Committee and in accord- 
ance with the agreement which was entered into with the Com- 
mittee before they made their recommendation. The solution 
is, as I have already stated, an arbitrary one, but in the opinion 
of the Government it is a just and reasonable solution and is, 
or ought to be, binding upon those who made it. 

" I may also impress upon the Council the very important 
consideration that the agreement about skarahbeshi establishes 


a large and certain gain to each of the factories concerned as 
against a possible and almost complete loss should this Bill not 
be passed into law. The reason of this is that the question of 
the legality of sharahbeshi has never yet been finally adjudi- 
cated upon by the law-courts. The test case which is now 
pending in the High Court is that brought by certain raiyat$ 
against the Turkaulia concern denying all obligation to grow 
indigo under satta or otherwise. The existence of the obliga- 
tion tp grow indigo as an incident of the tenancy is an issue 
in that case. The original court gave it in favour of the 
factory, the first appellate court upset the decision as regards 
five holdings out of nine. The High Court may of course 
restore the finding of the Munsiff but on the other hand it may 
go even further than the first appellate court and hold that 
in no case was the growing of indigo an incident under proviso 
(iii) to section 29. Should they do so the factories will stand 
to lose all sharahbeshi whereas under the Bill which is now 
before the Council they retain it all, less a fair and reasonable 
reduction. I understand that the planters' representative on 
the Committee, as also the consenting factories, or at least 
two of them, were much impressed by this aspect of the case. 

" The question of the refund of the tawan which has been 
taken in the temporarily-leased villages is totally separate from 
the question of reduction of sharahbeshi rents and was quite 
separately dealt with by the Committee. It could not be en- 
forced by legislation and it therefore does not figure in this 
Bill ; but at the same time, so far as Government are informed, 
it is not true to allege that the parties to the agreement about 
sharahbeshi were not all cognizant of the Committee's inten- 
tion as to tawan, while as regards the equity of a refund of 
some portion of the latter, it is only necessary to refer to the 
figures which Mr. Irwin has himself given in his letter and 
in his evidence before the Committee. He claims to have levied 
no less than Rs. 3,20,000 as tawan, while in his written state- 
ment he says that Rs. 6,60,000 in round figures was collected 
as rent in the ih\ka villages in five years, or an average of some 
Rs. 1,30,000 per year. He thus mulcted the tenants to the tune 
of nearly three years rental when his own leases were being 
renewed from year to year, or looking at it in another way, he 
levied tawan at Rs. 75 on the indigo lagan bigha, being equi- 
valent to a levy of 3/20th of that amount or Rs. 11-4-0 on the 


jamabandi bigha. His sharahbeshi worked out an average of 
Re. 1-14-0 per jamabandi bigha, so that he levied six years' 
purchase from his raiyots for freedom from an obligation which 
had practically become defunct. 

" To return to sharahbeshi. If it is equitable to take a 
reduction by agreement in the case of the three big factories, 
which contain 95 per cent of sharahteshi rents taken, it is 
equally just and reasonable to extend the reduction to the 
two minor concerns which did not enter into the agreement 
but in which also sharahbeshi was taken to an extent not less 
onerous than in the case of the three principal factories. On 
the other hand, inasmuch as the compromise in the form of 
admitting that the taking of compensation in the form of 
sharahbeshi for the loss of the indigo obligation was in a 
certain degree fair and reasonable, it is enacted in clause 
4 (I) (b) of the Bill that where the obligation is entered in the 
record and is therefore known to exist, but has not been taken, 
a corresponding enhancement will now be made in the rents. 
With the exception of the Rajghat factory which is being 
specially dealt with by a reference to the Government of India, 
the Committee have not mentioned any case in which no objec- 
tion to grow indigo was claimed and no sharahbeshi or tawan 
taken, but in which sattas are still current. It is understood 
that there are no, or at any rate few, such cases, but should 
any be found, their position can be considered hereafter when 
this Bill is being considered in Select Committee. Probably 
the simplest and most satisfactory way of meeting the difficulty 
would be to allow the sattas in such cases to run for a reason- 
able term of years before their extinction would come into 
force, a method which has, I think, been suggested in some 
of the letters which have recently appeared in the daily press. 

" The remaining provisions of the Bill require little notice. 
Clause 4 (2) provides for the necessary alterations in the 
record of rights and also prescribes the date from which the 
adjusted rentals will come into force. This date, namely, the 
1st October, 1917, corresponding with the commencement of 
the Fasli year 1325, formed part of the agreement which was 
entered into before the Committee of Enquiry. 

"Clause 5 is self-explanatory and makes any contract for 
the supply of land produce at a fixed price invalid if the 
contract purports to be for a longer period than three years or 


if the amount of the produce contracted for is to be determined 
otherwise than by actual weight or appraisement of weight. 
The limitation of the term is designed to guard against ini- 
quities which may arise owing to enhancement of values in 
any considerable period, while the limitation of the methods 
of determining the produce is intended to prevent the produce 
of any particular area, the value of which cannot of course 
be foreseen, from being sold forward at a fixed price. 

"Clause 6 has been inserted on account of its having been 
clearly shown both before the Committee and in previous 
settlement inquiries, that a variety of abwab have been com- 
monly levied in excess of and in addition to the legal rent and 
cesses both by thikadars and by proprietors, especially in the 
northern portion of the district. In order to discourage such 
illegal exactions it is necessary to give the Collector of the 
district the same power of imposing a penalty after a summary 
inquiry as is given by section 58 of the Bengal Tenancy Act in 
cases of withholding proper receipts. A slight addition has 
been made enabling the Collector to act on his own motion 
and not merely on complaint or the report of a Civil Court. 
The raiyats of the northern portions of the district are very 
backward and appear in spite of one previous settlement record 
to have little or no idea of what their legal liabilities are, A 
few examples made by the Collector will, it is hoped, have 
the effect of teaching them the meaning of a legal rent beyond 
which the landlord must not go. 

" I have now finished with the provisions of the Bill, but 
before I resume my. seat I should like, if the Council will grant 
me their forbearance for one minute longer, to revert to the 
vexed question of tawan. I have already shown that the sup- 
position that its partial refund came as a thunderbolt to the 
planters is a fallacious supposition. I have also shown, 
although tawan finds no part in this Bill, that the extent to 
which it was levied was inequitable. But there is yet another 
contention about this form of commuted obligation, with regard 
to which I desire to say a few words. It has been claimed 
in the public press that the levy of tawan was approved by 
Government and definitely sanctioned by Mr. Rainy when he 
was Collector of Champaran, who is said both in writing and 
In a certain speech which he delivered at some function or 


other to have given the institution of tawan his official bless- 
ing. I cannot arrive at any trace of the speech referred to, 
neither have I been able to procure a copy of the letter in 
which Mr. Rainy is said to have approved of the taking of 
tawan but having been Member of the Board of Revenue at 
the time I have a very clear recollection of what really took 
place. As 1 have already explained, the original form of com- 
pensation for remission of the indigo obligation in the thika 
villages was a yearly compensation and it was forbidden by 
the Board of Revenue except where the raiyot had been guilty 
of deliberate damage or neglect. Subsequently the manager of 
the Motihari concern hit upon the new expedient of taking 
compensation in the form not of a yearly fee but of a lump 
sum down which freed the raiyat once and for all from the 
obligation. He then asked the Collector, Mr. Rainy, if such 
compensation now known as tawan, would be permitted by 
the authorities. In sending up the case Mr. Rainy said that 
he would not recommend the prohibition of this form of com- 
pensation, as it was a matter between the raiyat and the fac- 
tory, and it was most desirable from all points of view to 
encourage to the utmost disappearance of the tinkathia system, 
a disappearance which Mr. Irwin himself had admitted ' would 
be to the great advantage of everybody concerned, official, Raj, 
planter, and raiyat " The Commissioner supported Mr. Rainy's 
view, which was referred by the Board of Government, and or- 
ders were eventually passed that if this new kind of tnwon were 
taken by voluntary agreement Government would not interfere 
with it ; but it must be distinctly understood that it could in no 
way interfere with the right of the Raj to apply for an enhance- 
ment of the rents of the raiyats under the Bengal Tenancy Act 
at the revision settlement when it came on. It will be observed 
that the alleged approval of the higher authorities was a purely 
negative statement, and it was accompanied by a warning 
which was in fact disregarded when tawan was taken at the 
rate at which it was taken, because it became at once clear 
that when the raiyat consented to pay at the rate of Rs. 50 
to Rs. 100 per bigha of indigo lagan he must have been under 
the impression that he was paying not only for the extinction 
of one or two year's liability to indigo or even for the extinc- 
tion of liability coincident with the satta, but was also paying 
at the same time for a permanent exemption from enhancement 


of rent. The result has been that the Committee have been 
compelled to recommend in paragraph II of their report that 
the Court of Wards should abstain for seven years from taking 
any enhancement, and Government on behalf of the Court of 
Wards have been compelled to accept the justness of the 
recommendation and to order that it shall be carried out. I fail 
to see how in these circumstances any sane man can maintain 
that an order for a refund of a substantial proportion of the 
tawan taken is an improper or unjust order. 

" We are now discussing only the principles of the Bill. 
If the motion which I am making is carried I shall then move 
that the Bill be relegated to a Select Committee in which the 
details of its provisions will be fully discussed and considered 
and on which the two Hon'ble Members who are here as repre- 
senting the Bihar planters will of course find a place. 

" I have now, Sir, come to the end of my remarks and I 
must apologize to the Council for having occupied so much of 
its time. I claim to have established : 

First, that as the Committee have put it, the tinkathia 
system has outlived its day and must perforce disappear, 
Mr. Irwin has himself admitted that the sooner it di 
appears the better for everybody. 

Secondly, that in its disappearance as regulated by this 
Bill, no injustice has been done to anyone. 

Thirdly, that the introduction of the side issue of tawan 
avails nothing so far as this Bill is concerned because it is 
unconnected with it and irrelevant, but that at the same 
time it was in no way sprung as a surprise upon the plant- 
ing community, while as a distinct and separate measure 
the refund is both just and necessary. 
" Government have no desire to strike a blow at the indigo 
industry, nor indeed, if they had such a desire, could it achieve 
it through the provisions of this Bill, for the simple reason that 
if indigo is sound commercially it can be grown and manufac- 
tured on open business terms and yet with a good profit. If it 
is dependent on conditions which are unsound and oppressive 
the sooner it disappears from off the face of the country, the 
bettet it will be. The wish of Government is simply to put an 
end to conditions in which the raiyat cultivator owing to his 
agrarian relations with the planter is unable to hold his own 
and can be made, and sometimes is made, to do things which in 


his heart of hearts he would never consent to do. Nor, Sir, do 
Government suffer from any lack of appreciation of the many 
and great services which the indigo planters of Bihar have 
constantly rendered to the province in which they live. We 
cannot perhaps go so far as to admit that some of them mag- 
nanimously took up mokarrari leases of Bettiah villages with 
the sole object of paying out of their own pockets the interest 
on the Sterling Loan, as a recent writer to the daily papers 
would apparently have people believe, but we can and do 
give the Bihar planters as a class the fullest credit for having 
'proved themselves good and considerate landlords at all times, 
and especially in times of flood and famine, as well as for the 
unswerving loyalty with which they have invariably supported 
Government and striven to meet their wishes. Nor do we 
underestimate the value of the capital which the European 
planter alone has been both able and willing to bring into the 
districts of Tirhut. But deep as these feelings are they would 
in no degree avail us as an excuse if we had decided to gloss 
over serious abuses and leave them untouched, now that their 
existence has been forced home upon us by recent events and 
recent enquiries. It is for the removal of some of the most 
patent of those evils that this Bill has been brought before the 
Council, and I accordingly ask the Council's leave to introduce 
it and let it run its course until it eventually, with such modi- 
fications as may hereafter seem just and necessary, becomes 
part of the law of Bihar and Orissa." 



1. Dr. Hari Shrikrishna Dev, L.M. S., 

2. Sjt. Baban Gopal Gokhale 

3. Mahadev Haribhai Desai 

4. Narahart Dwarkadas Parikh 

5. Brajlal Bhimji Rupani 

6. Chhotelal Jain 

7. Devdas Gandhi 

8. Surendraji 

9. Balkrishna Yogeshwar Purohit 

10. Sadashiv Lakshman Soman, 

B. A., LL. B., 

11. Narayan Tammaji Katagade 

alias Pundalikji 

12. Vishnu Sitaram Randive alias Appaji 

13. Eknath Vasudev Kshire 

14. Pranlal Prabhuram Yogi 

15. Shri Shankarrao Dev, B. A., 


Satyagraha Ashram 










Lilia, Bhavnagar 

1. Shrimati Kasturbai Wife of Mahatmaji 


Vinapani Sahu 

Baban Gokhale 
Mahadev Desai 
, Narahariji 
Mahila Ashram, Poona 
Wife of Sjt. Laxminara- 
yan Sahu, member of the 
Servants of India Society 



Abwabs, 47-48, 83-94 
Ajatashatru, of Magadha, 8 
Aliwardikhan, invaded Bettiah, 9 
Andrews, C. R, 109 
Anti- English movement, 152 
Antipathy between Bengalees 

and Biharees, 38 
Asamiwar, 13, 26, 41 

Bengal, its agitation against 
indigo, 17; its tenants' grievan- 
ces, 19:-Legislative Council on 
Champaran disturbances, 35-36; 
-Tenancy Act, 50, 59 

Bengalees, alleged to have 
engineered agitation, 36, 38 

Bettiah Raj, 5-6, 11, 28, 65-66, 
82;-agitation due to .outsiders, 
36;-agitation to stop indigo 
cultivation, 33- 36; -fair is made 
an instrument to propagate 
stopping of indigo cultivation, 
33; permits free irrigation, 32; 
-planters' rights, 49 

Bideha Raja, lived at Janakigarh, 

Bihar, famine in , 1887, 28; 
-Planters' Association's reso- 
lution on indigo rent, 26-27; 
separated from Bengal, 43 

Birat Raja, his capital was in 
Champaran, 7 

Brajkishoreprasad, 41, 102; pre- 
sides over the Bihar Provincial 

Conference, 78; proposes reso-:. 

lution on Enquiry Committee, 


British Indian Association, 17 
Buddha travelled through 

Champaran, 8 

Champaran, 3; -Agrarian Act, 
190-93; -Agrarian Bill, 21, 41, 
189, 204-18; -Agrarian Enquiry 
Committee Report, 179-82;-its 
history, 7-11; -its memorable 
day, 112;-its two kinds of land, 
4;-tenants shouted out their 
grievances to King Emperor, 

Cheddis, reigned over Champa- 
ran, 9 

Christian Missionaries, 17 

Compulsion ' to , cultivate.' indigo, 

Conspiracy, to drive sahibs out 

of country, 38 

Day, Lalbihari, draws a heart- 
rending picture of Bengal ryot* 

Decennial Settlement^lO 1 .. <> < V j 
"Dharanidharbabu, v 104,, 109:; *$ ^ 
TShokraha,' story !'of nts^Factory, 


'Dhruva, '.practised penance in 
i.Champaran, \ 7 




Eden, Sir Ashley, his evidence 
before Bengal Indigo Com- 
mission, 18 

Enhancement contracts, 53-56, 
69-74; are illegal and void, 58 

Enhanced rates, 51, 96; amounted 
to 60% on the existing rental, 
55; -their realization, 62-64 

Enquiry Commission, its report, 

Enquiry Committee, 18; its 
appointment, 161-69; its work, 
170-79; resolution on by 
Indian N ational Congress, 
Lucknow, 98; resolution on 
by Provincial Conference 
Bankipur, 79-80; signed a una- 
nimous report, 178; was 
suggested by European Defence 
Association, 154 

European Defence Association, 
resolves against Gandhiji's 
work in Champaran, 156 

Factories, burnt, 147; responsi- 
bility for burning, 153 

Gajagraha, Puranic story of, 3 
Gandhiji, anxious for a compro- 
mise, 178; appointed on the 
Enquiry Committee, 168; 
arrives in Patna, 100; complains 
about ryots being subjected to 
pin-pricks by planters, 150-54; 
describes his educational 
experiment in Champaran, 
198-99; gets ready the enquiry 
work programme after his 
arrest, 1]9; his method of social 
work, 201-02; his pleader- 
assistants are charged with 

132; his statement in the Moti- 
hari court, 115-16; interviews 
Governor, 155-60; on his 
mission, 150-54$ on purdah 
system, 105; reaches Bettiah, 
124; submits to Government 
preliminary conclusions of his 
enquiry, 133; proceeds to 
Champaran to start enquiry, 
104-05; served with a notice to 
leave Motihari, 107-08; the 
members of his social work 
party, 196-97, 200, 219; starts 
social work in Champaran, 195 

German dyes, reduced indigo 
price, 45 

Ghose, Sir Rashbihari, 51 

Government of Bihar, calls for 
reports from district officers 
and planters, 143; its resolution 
on the Enquiry Commission, 

Government of India, on indigo 
cultivation, 24 

Grant, Sir, John Peter, accepted 
Commission's recommenda- 
tions, 20 

Gulab, Shaikh, takes a prominent 
part in stopping indigo culti- 
vation, 33 

Haque, Mazharul, 100 
Hardinge, Lord, grants certificate 

to planters, 75-78 
Harja, 45-69 
Harshavardhana, Raja, reigned 

over Champaran, 8 
Hunda, 46-48, 63-65, 145 

Indian National Congress, 



Indigo contracts, 22; forcibly 

taken from tenants, 67 
Indigo crop, its seasons, 17 
Indigo cultivation, 11-13, 15; 
and Europeans, 11; becomes 
unprofitable, 45-46; criminal 
cases regarding i 30; disap- 
peared from Bengal, 20; its 
various categories, 13-17 
Indigo disturbances, in Champa- 
ran, 21-25 
Indigo factories, 4 
Indigo, v. artificial dye, 74 
Irwin, W. S., a prominent 
planter, 157; writes to the 
Press against the report of the 
Enquiry Committee, 183-85 
Istifanamas, 60-61 

Jalaha Factory, 58 

Janaki, took shelter after her 

exile in Champaran, 7 
Jugalkishor, Raja of Bettiah, 10 

Kabulayat, 57 

Kerr, Seton, President of the 

Enquiry Commission, 18 
Kripalani, Prof. 101 
Kurtauli, 13-14 
Kushki, 13-14 

Lagan, 67-68 
Lessees, perpetual, 66 
Lichchhavis, reigned in Champa- 
ran, 8 

Macleod, James, King of planters, 


Magadha Kingdom, 8 
Malaviyaji Madanmohan, 109-10 
Marsh, Alec, on the Enquiry 

Commission, 164-65 

Maude, on Champaran Agrarian 

Bill, 21 
Mokarri or perpetual rights, 66, 

75, 135 
Mokarridars or perpetual lessees 

on a fixed rental, 49 
Motihari, 5-6; factory introduces 

Harja, 48 
Mukerjee, Harishchandra, a 

sympathizer of the Bengal 

tenants, 17 

Occupancy rights of Factory 

owners, 13 
Outsiders, alleged to foster 

agitation in Bettiah, 36, 65; 

instigated happy tenants, 97 

Paddy, demanded by planters in 

place of indigo, 47 
Painkharcha, 83-85, 94 
Permanent Settlement, 10, 83 
Planters, and tenants, 65; begin 
realizing damages from tenants, 
48-49; devise means to transfer 
loss to tenants, 46-47, 135; 
their life in danger, 153; want 
Gandhiji and his co-workers to 
be removed from Champaran, 

Planters 1 Association, 15 
Polak, H. S., 109-10, 112 
Rabi cultivation, forbidden on 

indigo land, 40 

Rajendrababu, begins along with 
others recording the statements 
of tenants, 112-20; explains to 
the principal publicists the 
situation in Champaran, 112; 
is absent in Calcutta when 
Gandhiji -arrived at Patna, 100; 
undertakes to continue the 



worK in case of Gandhiji's 
arrest, 119 

Ramchandra, fought with Lava 
and Kusha in Champaran, 7 

Ramnavamiprasad, 104, 109 

Recording of tenants' statments, 
commenced, 109 

Relations between tenants and 
planters, 69, 74 

Revisional Survey and Settle- 
ment, 93 

Sale, John, a missionary and a 
member of the Enquiry Com- 
mission, 18 

Sathi factory, excavated a canal 
for indigo cultivation, 32; 
gives up indigo cultivation, 31, 
33; tenants refuse to pay water 
tax, 32 

Sattas, 15, 39, 136, 139 

Sharahbeshi, 55-69, 74, 95, 135, 157 

Shukla, Rajkumar, attends 
Provincial Conference, 80; meets 
Gandhiji at Calcutta, 100; 
supports Enquiry Committee 
resolution at Lucknow 
Congress 99 

Sitalrai, devotes himself to 
uprooting the system of Indigo 
cultivation, 33-35; sentenced to 
imprisonment, 36 

Sugar-cane cultivation, 11-13; 

not profitable, 40 
Synthetic indigo, its introduction 
lowered price of the local 

product, 135 

Tawan, 45-69, 135 

Temple, Richard, member of the 
Enquiry Commission, 18, 25 

Tenants, deprived of occupancy 
rights, 59; executed hand bonds 
while giving tawan, 67-68; 
never willingly agreed to the 
enhancement of rents, 52; 
prevented by planters from 
coming to Gandhiji, 150; sur- 
render hunda lands, 145-46; 
their complaints well-founded, 
19, 93; their grievances, 17-28 

Tinkathia, 13-14, 55, 74, 95, 135; 
-root of all the troubles '.' of 
tenants, 17 

Valmiki, his ashram was in 

Champaran, 7 
Villages, given in perpetual leases 

to planters for England's loan 

to Bettiah Raj, 28 

Zamindari, 10-12 

Zamindars, gave their villages to 

planters, 27 
Zerait, 13